Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas 2007

The busy part of Christmas is past and now I get to sit back and relax. I tried to upload some pics to my blog, but blogger is not having it. Later.

Saturday Joel & I went to a Tritabaugh family holiday gathering at my sister's Nancy's house. Half my siblings were there and about half my nephews and nieces (as well as my great-nephews & nieces). Everyone brought food and my sister made chilli and oyster stew. A strange combination, but another Tritabaugh family tradition nonetheless.

From the party, we brought my mom home with us--we got grandma for Thanksgiving and Christmas! The next 24 hours were spent finishing holiday shopping. The crappy weather didn't make things any easier, but it got done. When my final package arrived on Monday morning, I was good to go!

The first part of Monday was spent baking (the traditional Christmas shortbread), cooking dinner (calico beans and chicken tortilla soup...another odd combination perhaps, but it's all about fixing "favorites"), cleaning, wrapping presents and such stuff. Cyrus came over on Sunday evening. Ana and Adam were planning to come over in the evening, when we would kick off the family festivities.

Ana and Adam arrived just after 7 pm and after everyone finished eating, we dove right into opening presents. Santa was very good this year. Joel got me a Neshek jersey, along with tickets to Twinsfest. (I got Joel a classic Killebrew shirt, a favorite player of his).

Following the opening of presents, we played a great marble/board game--Aggravation. My grandfather made me the board when I was a kid. I grew up playing the game, my kids grew up playing the game... It's not that often that I get to play it with both my kids, but they're both willing to play it when we're together. It was a classic game...full of twists and turns and Cyrus came out the winner.

Late this morning we enjoyed a big brunch before Ana and Adam had to take off to spend the rest of the holiday with Adam's family. I was just fine with not having to prepare a huge holiday meal. I'm still recovering from the Thanksgiving prep.

So it's a quiet ending to the holiday for me...which seems like a perfect ending to such a busy season.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Spicy Christmas Shortbread

Merry Christmas to all! Here's a Christmas favorite that has become part of our holiday traditions. If you want to bake a little something that will make your house smell like Christmas, and tastes great--here it is!
Spicy Christmas Shortbread
2 sticks (1 cup) butter at room temperature
1 cup packed brown sugar
1-2 tablespoons grated orange peel (optional)
2 tablespoons ground ginger
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups flour
pinch of granulated sugar
1. Preheat oven to 325. Have two 8-9 inch round cake pans ready (do not need to grease).
2. In a large bowl, beat butter, brown sugar, orange peel, spices and baking soda with mixer or by hand, until fluffy. Gradually add flour, beating until just blended.
3. Divide dough in half and press evenly over bottom of ungreased pans. Sprinkle dough with sugar.
4. Bake 25-30 minutes until tops look dry and edges are slightly higher than centers.
5. Cool in pans on wire rack for 5 minutes. Cut while still warm. Store airtight up to two weeks (if it lasts that long) or freeze.
Tastes delicious warm or cool. When warm, melts in your mouth. When cool, it's wonderfully crunchy.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Mr. Santa

Mr. Santa was worn out from dealing with all the kids and needed a nap!

Lucy with Santa

Linnea, Becky's daughter

Me & Santa

Lucy & Morgan with Santa

Here are photos from Joel's gig as Santa at my work. The kids pictured are co-workers.

Joel was proud of his natural Santa ponch, but the beard and hair were fake of course. Still I think he made a pretty good looking Santa.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Ho! Ho! Ho!

Joel & I returned today from the land of the whirlpool jets. There's something so nice about escaping from home--even if it's only an hour away and even if it's only for a few days. We got to relax, play, and just spend time together without the intrusions of work and kids. We returned to Moondance Inn, where we spent our honeymoon. Moondance is a beautiful bed and breakfast located in Red Wing. I know there are lots of nice b & b's out there...and part of me wants to explore others, but a bigger part of me just wants to return to Moondance again and again. It is such a comforting place to be and feels so homey. I think this little respite will help me get thru the busy holiday season.

We shifted gears dramatically when we returned home. We had a brief stop at home and then Joel went with me to work. Tonight we had our annual holiday party for our program families. Joel played Santa and I was his helper. The parties are always a little chaotic...there are lots of families, adults and kids of all ages, and not nearly enough staff to keep it feeling sane. Actually, the prep always seems to be the worst part. Once the families arrive, everything just seems to happen. Fortunately, our families don't seem adverse to the craziness.

Joel was a great Santa. He handled equally well the kids that were scared of him and the kids who were determined to find out if he was "real". One kid said to him "You work for the little people." Joel responded, "They work for me."

It was a fun night. There will pictures soon--of Moondance and Santa!

Monday, December 10, 2007

From the land of whirlpool jets...

Just a quick note from Moondance Inn...it's beautiful, quiet, and restful here. This room is incredible...decorated in maroons and golds. I want to transfer the whirlpool tub to home...it's a little slice of heaven. I've been in it 3 times already...and I'll be in it at least that many times more. Joel & I are going to venture out to the antique malls and then come back to the whirlpool.

I'll post pictures when we get back (not of us in the tub!). I'm thinking about all you fools at work...and oh so glad I'm not there with you.

Until tomorrow--

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Surrounded by friends and love

Wednesday was my birthday. It was an awesome day surrounded by friendship and love.

As I laid in bed sleeping in the morning I noticed that the neighbors were cooking bacon or sausage (their kitchen is next to our bedroom). Wrong. Joel brought me breakfast in bed, complete with flowers (he also sent me flowers at work on Monday). The morning was filled with phone calls, text messages and such from friends and my kids wishing me a happy birthday (the calls continued throughout the day).

Joel drove me to work (I went in late). We had our team meeting at 11. Several of my teammates brought gifts and treats for my birthday. It was a fun day and it felt good being at work with people who are also good friends and helped make my birthday a celebration.

Joel and I had a quiet evening (I'm fighting a cold and not feeling 100%). Eventually we went out to Cafe Latte for dinner...one of my favorite places. Joel and I are celebrating my birthday and 6 month anniversay with a trip to the b & b we honeymooned at in Red Wing. We'll be leaving on Sunday and return Tuesday. I can't wait to soak in that hot tub.

So, yup, I turned 47. I don't care much about the number. This has been an incredible year for me...with the biggest change in my life being getting married. It doesn't matter how "old" I am, I like where I am. Life is good.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The joys of winter

It's been a long day. It started off with me sluggish after only 5 hours of sleep. I felt like I was coming down with a cold. UGH. The weather report for the day forecasted the second snowstorm in just 4 days. I'm a wimp driving on snowy winter roads and I decided I did not want to drive to work and then risk having to drive home in the storm. Joel drove me to work...which was definitely a bonus.

Work itself wasn't bad...it's Secret Santa week, so there is plenty of fun associated with that. But Tuesday is the day I work late...it's Family Night when we have programming for our families. I don't get out of work on Tuesdays till at least 7:30pm. I was skeptical at the beginning of the day whether we really would hold it tonight...but initial reports was it was a go. But around 3:30 the decision was made--cancel Family Night.

That meant I could make my venture home by bus far earlier...but that did not mean it would be an easy ride. I caught a ride up to Lake Street and then waited 20 minutes for the bus (it should have been a 5 minute wait at best). My toes were numb with cold. But getting on wasn't the hard part. It took an hour to make it to Marshall/Snelling--which would normally take 20 minutes. The entire ride took 1 hour 20 minutes. I was cold to the bone, but it was still better than driving those horrid roads myself.

I took a hot bath and drank a hot cup of tea. Now I'm just chillin in front of the t.v.

Winter can be beautiful, but it can also be a bitch.

6 months and counting

Can't sleep. Way too much caffeine, yesterday, I guess (2 McD's vanilla iced coffees...I gotta swear off those!). One of those nights when I can't turn off the brain.

Joel & I went out to dinner last night to celebrate our 6-month anniversary. My daughter says we're corny. Earlier in the day, Joel surprised me by having a beautiful flower arrangement delivered to me at work.

I love how corny love can be.

Thanks, babe.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

First snow

It had to happen...the first snow. It was a good day to stay home...or at least off the road. We went out to the Farmer's Market and I took some pics of the Christmas tree lot at the Market. Later I spent some time at the studio painting...it's awesome having the studio to escape to--even when the weather is awful. I baked cookies tonight just to make things a bit more cozy.
I hate driving on snowy/icy roads...so I have a feeling I'll be staying home again tomorrow. Sounds like a good deal to me.

A few of my favorite holiday things...

Borrowing a page from Mindy's blog, here are a few of my favorite holiday/winter things...

1. The first snow...throwing the season's first snowball, watching dogs play in it, and maybe even being snowed in (and unable to make it to work!)
2. Setting up my Santa collection
3. Decorating the christmas tree...taking out the ornaments that have special history--like the vintage ornaments from my childhood, the bread dough ones I made with my kids when they were young, and definitely the ones that came from our mystery santa years ago
4. the smell of real Christmas trees
5. Going to the "Dayton's" 8th floor display multiple times, at least once with my daughter (and now for the second year, with Joel & Bree)
6. Baking/decorating holiday cookies/treats...like my ginger shortbread that makes the house smell so good
7. Secret Santa at work (which I love to organize...it's next week...let the games begin!)
8. The period rooms at the Mpls Institute of Arts decorated for the holidays
9. coming in from the cold and soaking in a hot bath
10. warm wool sweaters
11. curling up next to my honey to watch a movie
12. escaping to a bed and breakfast (with a whirlpool in the room)
13. snuggling under the covers on a cold morning
14. 2 weeks off from work (yea, Southside!)
15. making Christmas crafts & gifts
16. soup and fresh baked bread (think Panerra Bread!)
17. celebrating my birthday
18. getting Christmas cards in the mail
19. walking through Mears Park with all the Christmas lights
20. and of course, opening Christmas presents with family

Sunday, November 25, 2007


Sunday evening...long weekend almost over. Of course, I would love a few more days, but the time off has been good.

Wednesday I picked up my mother at her place in Lakeville and brought her to our place to join our Thanksgiving celebration. Since my mom is my children's only living grandparent (and always has been), my kids LOVE having grandma here on the holidays. But since she has 6 children, 15 grandchildren and 20 great-grandchildren Grandma is in great demand. We were thrilled to have my mom here!

This is the first holiday meal that I have fixed in our St. Paul home. Meal prep got underway on Wednesday, as my mom and I started making a few side dishes and pies! My mom bakes great pies and my goal in recent years has been to pay closer attention to the pie baking process. It's all about the crust...and my mom's crust is outstanding. We made two pumpkin pies and a blueberry. I made the crust for the blueberry and it wasn't bad. I think I'm ready to go solo (although I think my kids will always prefer "grandma's pies"... perhaps some day I will have grandchildren will swoon over my pies).

We broke tradition and had our Thanksgiving meal in the evening. That gave me the whole day to continue prep. I thought I would be able to sleep in, but instead I was up at 6:30 am and baking cookies at 7. I made my date-filled cookies, a.k.a "once a year" cookies--they are so labor-intensive that I usually make them no more than once a year. If my daughter didn't love them so much, I probably wouldn't make them that often.

The Thanksgiving meal is probably one of my favorite holiday traditions. It's a huge meal to prepare, but I can't really imagine going out to eat at a restaurant or being somewhere other than home. It was a nice first Thanksgiving here...the table looked beautiful with a red tablecloth and our fiestaware (I should have taken a picture). The food turned out great. The stuffing, gravy, turkey...all turned out well. The only thing that really went wrong was the cat walking across the pies...they were on the counter...thankfully with towels over them...so they were smooshed in a few places, but still edible!

I fell into bed Thursday night, very full and very tired. No major shopping plans for me on Friday. All I did was stop at Target after taking my son home. I did hit a mall on Saturday and I can say that I would just as soon skip major mall shopping until the holidays are over.

The rest of the weekend has included eating leftovers (lots of leftovers with a 22 lb turkey), some crafting/painting, and yes, today some shopping at some smaller stores--mostly to buy craft supplies for gifts I plan to make.

May the countdown to Christmas begin...

Monday, November 19, 2007


The entrance to Macy's (or Dayton's, as I still call it) 8th Floor Holiday display.

This year's display is the Nutcracker story.

Joel with his daughter, Bree.

I'll be busy the next few days with Thanksgiving preparations, but I was told I need to post a new blog entry. So I thought I would throw up some pics from our trip to the "Dayton's" 8th floor display. (For those who do not know the history, Dayton's initiated the tradition of the 8th floor holiday display in their downtown Mpls store some 45 years ago. Wisely, Macy's has decided to continue the tradition.)

Joel and I took his daughter to the display on November 10th, just a day after it opened. Most people don't realize it opens so early...but that's really the time to go--the crowds are so much smaller.

It was a wonderful show. I'll be going again this year--it's a tradition that my daughter still indulges me in.

The show is also a great way to ignite a little holiday spirit. We followed our two trips through the Nutcracker with a trip to the 4th floor to check out the holiday decorations. All the Santas got me excited about bringing out my Santa display (which I did this past Saturday...more on that later)

I'm looking forward to Joel and mine first holiday season together in our home. I love decorating and cooking for the holidays...so I'll be sure to share some of that fun in the weeks to come.

Sunday, November 11, 2007


The 14-place servings of fiestaware we use every day. I love that I can store it on an open shelf.

A close-up view. Our colors: tangerine, scarlet, cobalt blue, peacock (turquoise), heather, plum, and cinnabar. There's a few stray yellow pieces we picked up when we couldn't resist a great clearance price!

I'm sharing some photos of our ever-growing Fiestaware collection. We have 14 place settings (in 7 colors) and assorted other pieces. On Halloween, Joel and I went shopping at Macy's (we had a coupon that was about to expire!) and added a few pieces to our collection--the 3 bowls pictured below, along with a few other items. I have to admit I was on a fiestaware high when we found the pedestal bowl for $3.

I know, they are only dishes. But the fiestaware represents much more than just dishes to me. Like any soon-to-be bride, once Joel proposed to me I started dreaming about what our home would be like. I was anxious for the day when we wouldn't be shuffling between our two homes, but living together in one. Obviously, we had both accumulated many personal items during the years and the challenge would be combining our two households. But I also felt it was important that we start our life together with some new things, not just all the stuff from our past.

What better way than with new dinnerware that we would use on a daily basis? Cooking, eating together...those were the things I was looking forward to. Neither one of us owned a wonderful set of dinnerware (no offense, hon!). I was more than willing to pass on my old stuff to my kids.

My heart was soon set on Fiestaware. Fiestaware is classic; it's simple and durable, will be around forever (sort of like us, right?). It offers lots of color choices that you can mix and match...and I love color.

Joel, being the smart man he is (he proposed to me, right?), agreed to the fiestaware idea and soon we were stopping at fiestaware displays, discussing colors... Joel surprised me with something like 12-place settings for Christmas last year. I was thrilled. And even though it was hard, I let those dishes sit in their boxes in a corner of my bedroom until we moved in together.

Now we enjoy our fiestaware every day as we sit down to eat together. I love it.

Behold, the new bowls purchased on Halloween. This "treat" includes the deep purple pedestal bowl we purchased for $3 (a deep discount from the $32 original price). We also scored a butter dish and 4 ramekins.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Calico Beans

Calico Beans

1 lb hamburger
1 lb bacon
2 cans dark red kidney beans
1 large can of baked beans
1 can lima beans
1 can northern or butter beans
small can of tomato sauce or ketchup
brown sugar (1/2 cup or so)

Brown hamburger as you fry the bacon. After hamburger is browned, add all the beans, tomato sauce and brown sugar. Crumble fried bacon into beans. Simmer at low heat. Yum! Yum!

This is a favorite family dish that makes an appearance at every big family gathering. Full of protein and iron. (The only downside is that too many beans will make you toot--so avoid being downwind from your loved ones!)

Sunday, November 4, 2007


It's quite hard to get decent pictures of a black cat. Friday night I seized this opportunity. Squeakers climbed onto a pile of white tissue paper lying on the table. He seemed to like it there and I think he may have even thought that I had made a bed for him to lie on.

Squeakers has been in the family for 10+ years. He joined the family when Ana begged that we "save" this stray (we already had one cat and it has since become part of the story that he wasn't that much of a stray). He was given his name because of the squeaky noise he sometimes makes when you pick him up.

He has never really been a lap cat, but he's grown more affectionate with age (and now sometimes lays in my lap). He's become quite pampered in his old age; receiving special canned cat food each morn before anyone dares do anything else (or risk listening to his constant meows) and getting his water from a dripping bathtub faucet (turned on just so he can get fresh water).

It's a cat's life...meow.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The winds they are a'howlin...

Tomorrow begins the month of November. Unreal. Belinda Jensen (Kare11 weather forecaster) just reminded us that the average daily high November 1st is in the low 50's and at the end of the month it's in the low 30's. Oh ya, and the average snowfall amount for the month of November is nearly 10 inches.


Thursday, October 25, 2007

Georgia O'Keefe exhibit

Joel met me after work tonight and we headed to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts to see the special Georgia O'Keefe exhibit. Two of my favorites in combo: The Institute of Arts and O'Keefe.

It was a small, but incredible exhibit. It was amazing to see so many (about 42) Georgia O'Keefe paintings at one time. I love looking at her work: her use of colors and shapes. This particular exhibit zeroes in on O'Keefe's focus on abstraction and in particular, the circular form. This included some of her flower paintings (such as the one in above) and pelvic bones pieces. In some respects, I don't care what her subject matter was, I marvel at her use of color and tone. But I stood in awe before paintings that I've seen pictured in book after book. On one hand, I was amazed that most were smaller in size than I imagined. I think her work is so huge to me, that I always imagine her work to be gigantic in size. Many are quite small actually. And on the other hand, I was struck by how powerful (and beautiful) her work still is. Pieces I've always admired were more striking in person than I could even imagine.

Needless to say, I enjoyed the exhibit and will be back before it's gone. It's there until January 6th...so get there if you can.

I also seized the opportunity to become an MIA member (something I've always wanted to do). It seemed like the perfect time, since the membership came with tickets to the O'Keefe exhibit, plus an O'Keefe exhibit poster and MIA canvas bag.

On a side note, we made it home in time to catch James Taylor sing the National Anthem before tonight's World Series game (in Boston, Taylor's home town). Now I am quite biased, but I thought he did an exceptional job. He made the song his own, instead of trying to do it like every other person has done it. He kept it within his range and made it sort of folksy (which James Taylor does ever so well). Hey, if I could set up a link to his rendition, I would, but you'll just have to take my word for it. It was great.
(I am having trouble with the formatting of this post...try as I might, it's running as one long paragraph...I will try to fix it again tomorrow).

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

A walk thru my neighborhood

I can't believe the summer is gone...it feels like winter is not far away. I enjoyed my first summer in St. Paul. Here are photos from a Sunday morning walk I took thru my neighborhood...it was a glorious summer day. I plan to play this video when the winter winds are a-howlin'. Hope you enjoy!

Home to Bed

I have a sinus infection. UGH. I've been battling horrible headaches for quite a while--and yesterday I went in to the doctor. I started antibiotics (and expensive nasal spray) but I think it's going to take a while before I feel better. I feel like crawling into bed and pulling the covers over my head. I came home early from work today and did just that.

Now if I could just do that for about a week.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Date Night

Why do weekends go so quickly? Monday mornings come too soon. I'm horrible at getting out of bed on Monday mornings (and it doesn't help when I can't fall asleep till 1 a.m.) Thank god I now have a job where I don't have to be at work at some ungodly hour (no more rushing in to do payroll on Monday morning!). I sort of get to slide into the work week...and that is a good thing.

The weekend was kicked off with Date Night on Friday. Friday night is our time together as a couple--usually going out to do something. Even though we're married now and spend every day together, I think we still need special time together. Time when we are enjoying time as a couple and not planning/doing chores, meals, or other domestic stuff.

This week we went out for a special dinner to the Signature Cafe. It's a very small, intimate restaurant located in a residential part of Prospect Park. The restaurant is housed in a former neighborhood grocery store. I stayed somewhat true to my diet (more on that later) and had the salmon. Joel enjoyed the pot roast...which I sampled. It was awesome--melt in your mouth-awesome. Stacy, you would love this pot roast!

Following dinner, we wandered around. We drove over to the St. Anthony area and checked out a small bookstore. Eventually we finished the night off with a trip to Izzy's for ice cream. Again, I was very good and stayed with the sorbet. I had an izzy of chocolate water ice (very dark and intense flavor) with a scoop of pomegranate sorbet. Joel obliged me with a taste or two of his banana ice cream. It stirred dreams of a hot fudge sundae.

It was a very sweet evening spent with my honey.

Saturday brought out the sun, which was a welcome sight. Saturday we did a bunch of chores. Sunday I did spend some time in the studio--which feels very good. I'm determined to stay committed to studio time. My goal is to be a participant in the spring art crawl. And then in the afternoon, I spent some time running around with my son, followed by some of my own running around--including a trip to an art store. Yay!

So all in all, it was a good weekend. I just want more of it!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

You're It

Stacy tagged me ...

so here are some answers to random questions about myself--

Jobs I’ve held:

1. Social Worker-home visitor-Southside
2. Membership Coordinator-YWCA
3. Building Supervisor-YWCA
4. Library Assistant-U of MN libraries
5. Summer girl-wealthy family in Minnetonka
6. Corn detassler-rural MN

Places I’ve lived:

1. St. Paul, MN

2. Minneapolis, MN

3. Eden Valley, MN

4. Ellsworth, MN

Foods I love:

1. dark chocolate

2. Diet Coke

3. tator tot hotdish (and I make a mean casserole)

4. pot roast (someday Stacy)

5. Thanksgiving dinner

6. my mother’s pies

7. cookies that I bake: sugar, molasses, & date-filled

Places I’d rather be:

1. Paris

2. Twins spring training camp

3. a Twins game

4. and for the exotic: Morocco

Movies I like:

1. Love Actually

2. Witness

3. Wizard of Oz

4. Black Stallion

TV Shows I watch:

1. Grey’s Anatomy

2. ER (still)

3. What Not to Wear

Friends I am tagging:

1. Joel

2. Mindy

3. The Tritabaughs

4. Julie

Send me your answers!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Sunday mornings

Sunday mornings. Religious or not, Sunday mornings are sacred. As individuals or as a family, people have routines on Sunday morning that are as much a part of their weekly groove as any other day of the week. Most times we don't think about what that routine is. It is just part of the routine. It may include church or not. It may include watching particular shows on tv or listening to music. Perhaps it involves nothing more than reading the Sunday paper in bed while savoring a chocolate croissant and coffee (mmm...sounds good). Food seems to be a big thing on Sunday mornings. Eating in vs. Going out. Light meal vs. Full out Brunch. Some folks like a quiet morning to themselves while others consider it a time to socialize with family and friends. Whatever the routine is, it belongs to that person.

The thing with routines is that we don't often think about them until they are gone. Sometimes we pay more attention to the absence of our routines than their presence. Sometimes you don't miss a routine until it is gone.

For years now, my Sunday morning routine has been a solo one. If my kids weren't working on Sunday morning, they were sleeping. I enjoyed the solitude and the time to putz around my house by myself. I would get up when the spirit moved me...sometimes late, sometimes early. I would spend time leisurely reading the Sunday paper (starting with the Target ad), usually watching some light-hearted t.v. Often it was CBS' Sunday Morning show. When I had cable, it was probably some decorating show. Definitely not Meet the Press. Many Sundays I would pass on tv altogether and listen to some music--something lively that maybe I would dance to a little. Most times I would make a simple breakfast that I would enjoy with my diet Coke. I would plan my afternoon, which varied greatly. But my morning--well, my morning was pretty simple...basically time to myself, recharging, getting ready for another week.

Routines change. As you know, I moved in with Joel this past spring. Most weekends, his son and daughter are here on Sunday morning (they generally arrive Saturday afternoon). I moved in with a completely different Sunday morning routine in place. It's a routine that belongs to Joel and his kids. Nothing wrong with it. It is just very, very different from my old routine. First off, it involves other people. Probably the most significant aspect of my old routine is that it involved noone but myself. So there's that major change.

I miss my old routine. But fact is, it's gone. I've struggled to figure out what my new routine should be. It's hard trying to blend into an already-established family routine. I feel a bit like an outsider in my own home. And the fact that it is a "family" routine makes me quite aware that I don't have my own kids around. That has been hard.

So I'll continue to create my new Sunday morning routine. It will be a work in progress. I've been thinking that it would be a perfect time to steal away to the studio and do a little painting. I can listen to some music and even dance a little bit. All by myself.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Art Crawl weekend

Amanda Gullixson, Carleton Lofts

Alexandra Rozenman, Lowertown Lofts

Caprice Glaser, Jax Bldg

Barbara Evan, Jax Bldg

It's a busy weekend in our neighborhood. Twice a year, in October and April, art studios in St. Paul's Lowertown neighborhood open their doors to art fanciers and curious urbanites. This corner of St. Paul becomes one big art gallery. It's an interesting look into the world of the artist. It's an opportunity to see an artist's work in the studio where the work is created. Some studio spaces are living spaces as well.

It's also a cheap date night. Joel took me on my "first" art crawl in the Spring of 2006. At first, it was very uncomfortable for me traipsing into people's work spaces and worse, their living rooms. I felt like an intruder and wanted to make my way in and out without conversation. Well, that's not really possible alongside Joel. Joel had already lived in this neighborhood for several years and actually knew several artists that had their studios open. By the end of that first evening, I became more comfortable and was able to speak with various artists about their work.

It is, in part, the artist community in Lowertown that made me want to live here. If you asked me what was the first thing I ever wanted to be, I would answer "painter". That desire was born when I was young girl--probably around 8 years old. I remember looking at a poster that my oldest brother brought home from college of a Renoir painting and thinking that I wanted to be able to do that. I already loved spending hours "coloring", drawing, and painting with those cheap watercolor sets.

I was raised in small towns and there were no art museums. Fortunately, art classes were offered even in the early elementary grades. In high school, I forfeited "study hall" in order to take an extra hour of art classes. Initially, when I got to college I majored in journalism (writing was another passion and journalism seemed a more reasonable way to make a living), but before long my desire to create art took over. When I realized I could take art classes to satisfy elective requirements I was hooked. And soon my major changed.

I have never "made a living" as an artist (or as a journalist either, for that matter). In fact, there have been many years when I really wasn't making art at all. But I always found ways to "be creative"--whether that meant painting, making cards or some sort of crafts, or whatever I could do while raising two children on my own. And my kids will tell you, I dragged them to every art museum I could (it payed off, both my kids will go to the Art Institute or other museums with or without me).

So, now that my kids are "grown", it's time to return to some real art-making. Once Joel and I decided to settle in Lowertown, we started looking for a small art studio...a place where he can write and I can paint. Last January we found a wonderful space in the Jax building...which just happened to be my favorite building to visit during the art crawl. The building houses a rich community of artists.

I've started to do a little bit of painting and my goal this winter is to finish some new paintings for the first time in years. Last spring Joel and I opened our studio--Joel exhibited some work of local comic artists and I had some older paintings up. It was an interesting experience. This fall we decided to pass on opening. I didn't feel ready. I want to do it right...when I have new work to exhibit. So this fall, we're experiencing the art crawl again as observers...but next spring (mark your calendar: April 25,26,&27) I plan to be ready. And then the artwork you'll see posted on this blog will me my own.

(For art crawl information, click here.)

Friday, October 5, 2007

Decision made

We are the proud owners of the comforter set pictured below.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Perchance to dream...

O.k. I've been struggling for months now trying to figure out just what sort of bedding to get for our bedroom. I really want to have something new...not something old that Joel or I had previously.

Part of me is a "shabby chic" kind of girl...I love older stuff, and being a sentimental fool I have collected a variety of "hand-me-down" pieces of furniture and other treasures...Joel has the same modpodge collection, so shabby chic fits what Joel and I have.

But I also like things with a bit of spunk...and I started going with a teal/brown color scheme in our bathrooms. Months ago when I created a Target registry (more for the fun of doing it than anything else), I put this bedding on the registry (you also get a 10% discount coupon to use in purchasing anything on your registry). (It comes with a matching bedskirt and pillow shams...) I thought it was modern, edgy, yet serene, and not frilly in any way.

So I've been flipping back and forth. Shabby chic or trendy?

As the weather has gotten colder, the idea of curling up underneath something more like a quilt has become more appealing. So Thursday night we bought a quilt coverlet--floral print (peonies!)--definitely creates a homey feel...but damn it, I can't get this comforter out of my mind.

So I have a decision to make...stay with what I have now or return the quilt and get this comforter instead?

Do you notice how good it looks with my blog motif?


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

A Great Day for a Pinic

The cake--triple chocolate and triple good (from Turtle Bread Company)

Barb and John

Joel enjoying time with his childhood friends

The newest Tritabaugh--Scarlett

Southside friends

Y Misfit friends

Saturday we had beautiful weather for our picnic--our last wedding celebration with family and friends. Since we had such a small, intimate wedding we wanted to do something to celebrate with a wider circle of family and friends.

The picnic was it. The picnic pavillion (Hidden Falls) was wonderful--private with lots of picnic tables, shelter, and lots of grassy space surrounding it (it was also very near the river). We were blessed with perfect weather...which seemed to be the perfect trade-off for less-than-perfect weather on the wedding day.

I did a horrible job taking pictures...too busy running around taking care of food. Again, not one pic of just Joel and I (can anyone help me out?).

Thanks everyone for coming and enjoying the day with us!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Happy, Happy Birthday Joel!

Joel is celebrating his birthday on September 16th. Wish him well. If the video above does not work, try this link.

Dear Joel--

Happy, Happy Birthday, my love! This may not be a jumbotron birthday greeting (I'll surprise you someday), but here's a little birthday shoutout.

Thank you for a wonderful year of fun-filled adventures. I'm looking forward to new adventures in the coming year.

Thank you for making me laugh every day and for the love you have shown me. You're the best!

Love, your wife,


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Random thoughts at 1 in the morning

I can't sleep.

Does it seem ironic to anyone else that at a point when your body (aging body that is ) seems to need more sleep, it's harder to get that sleep?

I got a shot of cortisone in my left hip today. I've had bursitis in my hip for years, haven't been able to sleep on that hip in ages, and finally it got to that point where I went to the doc for it. I was at that point where having an 6" needle stuck in my hip sounded like a good option. It was a somewhat painful injection (I actually squealed at one point), but if it works, it was worth it. I should feel some relief in 48 hours, but it may take a few weeks to know if the shot did the trick. If the one shot doesn't do the trick, I may need another injection.

I'm hoping there's no need to face the needle again.

My 20-year-old son, who is paining me with his growing pains, randomly sent me a picture on my camera today. Out of the blue, in the middle of the day, he sent me a photo of him and his sister when they were like ages 3 & 6. I think he sent it as sort of a "hey mom, don't you remember how cute I was and you still adore me, right?" message.

His message became the highlight of my day. I do so adore my kids. All around me I am surrounded by folks raising small children. My clients all have children under the age of 5. Several of my co-workers have young children. I love little kids and all the joy they bring to your life. If I was 10 years younger...

But having raised a few myself, I know how much work it is...and even how much work it still is having a 20 and 23 year old! I know my body couldn't go through all that again! Raising children consumes your life when you're in the midst of it. Kids become your priority and that's the way it should be.

But now, I'm sliding into that phase of my life when I get to reclaim my focus a bit...on myself and now, the relationship with my husband. It's really different sometimes. I still talk to my kids everyday if I can. I miss them like crazy if I don't see them every week. I still enjoy nurturing them with their favorite foods and things. I worry about them and I still want to protect them from the hard parts of life. Although there are days when I would like to worry about them less, I realize that day may never truly come. Yes, they will be more and more self-sufficient (they're well on their way) You can't just turn off the mommy meter that easily.

But you get to turn it down a notch or two.

Friday, September 7, 2007

A proposal on the jumbotron

This post is pulling double-duty...appearing on this as well as, my baseball blog...you'll see why.

A year ago on this Friday night (the date was actually Sept. 8th, but it was a Friday), Curveball (Joel) and I were at the Twins game. I have to previce this story by saying that he had been slightly annoying me all week...not for any real reason, other than he had been sort of weird, not himself...I couldn't put my finger on it but he wasn't himself. It wasn't anything major, but when he showed up at my place "late" (by this I mean he arrived about a half hour later than he had planned on arriving), I was even more in a tizzy. I'll admit it, I sort of laid into the poor guy. We were taking the city bus down to the Dome from my place in south Mpls and I always liked to arrive plenty early. But as we were waiting for the bus, I told him not to worry about it, I wasn't still mad. In fact, in an attempt to demonstrate my love and relax the guy, I told him that I had actually bought his birthday present that day.

We arrived at the dome and Joel had to pick up the tickets. Joel had arranged to buy tickets for "good seats" behind home plate. He said something about getting these seats for our "anniversary" (we had been dating 6 months). I didn't think anything of it...hey, I'll take good seats anytime I can get them!

We settled in. There was a family with two young boys sitting next to us...they were really cute and wearing "Joe Mauer sideburns". I did notice Joel being sort of fidgety at one point, playing with a straw or something in a way not typical of him. I almost made a smart comment like, "Nervous or something?", but I didn't want to resurrect the tension between us from earlier in the evening.

Garza was pitching that night, but not having his best outing. We were behind in the 5th inning and it looked like Garza may already be done for the night. Before the Twins came up to bat in the 5th, I looked up to the Jumbotron and read "Risa, I love you. Will you marry me? Love, Joe."

Now the first thing I want to point out is that it read "Joe". The man sitting next to me is named "Joel". He never goes by Joe. I read it a second and probably third time. My heart started racing. I'm thinking...how many other Risa's could be here...did they mean Joel? (Note: this is not the sort of thing you want to be wrong about). It really was one of those surreal moments, when time takes on a different dimension. Everything became a little fuzzy. I finally realized the woman next to me (who Joel had clued in while I was in the bathroom) was asking me if it was "yes" AND Joel was trying to get on his knee and get the ring out of his pocket AND there was a cameraman right in front of us.

The second thing I want to point out is that the answer was always, without a doubt, "YES". Joel asked me exactly how I wanted to be asked--at a Twins game on the jumbotron. I love baseball. I think it's very romantic (as long as you both love baseball--Joel had actually "found" me on match.com by typing "twins baseball" in the common interest search). And I think any man who will ask that question in front of 40,000 people...well, you don't have to doubt their committment.

Obviously, I wasn't expecting a proposal that evening. He didn't give me any hint that he was going to propose that night...and after the fact, I realized that his "weirdness" all week was due to his nervousness. He had spent the night before (a rare evening we were not together) posting on one of the baseball blogs about his plans to propose.

Back to the proposal...

It was wonderful. We were on the jumbotron, but the cameraman had a hard time capturing it because a hotdog vendor had decided our row was the place to set up shop (and Joel was too nervous to tell him to go away). Joel had a wonderful engagement ring for me...a 1987 World Series ring (a replica for fans). Both of us were shaking when the whole thing was done.

Shortly after the proposal, I got a cellphone call from my boss. I said to Joel, "I can't believe work is calling me right now. I am so not dealing with problems at work." But on the other end, Sue was asking, "Did you say 'yes'?" One of my co-workers was at the game, saw it all and had called Sue. Then Joel asked me if I was going to call Julie, my best friend (who lives in New York). I was dying to call her, so I went out to the concession area...made the call and got her voicemail. I left a message something like, "Umm, we're at the Twins game and Joel just sort of proposed..." Julie picked up the phone before I could finish and laughed, "he sort of proposed..."

It was a magical evening. The Twins came up to bat in the bottom of the 5th and started hitting. Neshek started pitching and got the win.

Really though, I think I was the winner that night.

Oh ya, one final..."I (meaning "moi") was such a dope for being mad at you" moment...when we got back to my place, Joel went to his car and opened up the trunk and pulled out a dozen roses. That's why he was a half hour late that night...he had stopped to buy roses for me and hid them in the trunk, so I wouldn't see them till post-proposal. The whole proposal tells you why I love the man...he pays attention, he really tries to do those things that matter.

So yup, as you all know, we got married June 3rd. It wasn't a baseball-themed wedding, but we did have Twins mini-helmuts on the cake. I think, as Joel said that evening a year ago, we'll have lots of fun growing old together. And that will include lots of baseball games!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Wedding photos slideshow

This past weekend I put together a wedding picture slideshow, complete with music and fun graphics. I did it to create a keepsake for us, but thought I would share it with anyone who is interested in viewing. Yes, it is a little long (a little over 6 minutes), but I love the pics of Ana catching my bouquet and then Adam (her boyfriend) catching the garter. And the ones of me and the hubbie are pretty nice too.

(Thanks Mel for helping me get the video posted!)

If you are unable to get the video above to load, try clicking on this link.

Monday, September 3, 2007

One final trip to the fair

Today Joel and I celebrated our 3-month anniversary by making one more trip to the State Fair. Believe it or not, this is the first time I've gone to the Fair on the final day--Labor Day. It was my fourth trip this year. Hey, Joel went six times (he went one day to get some baseball autographs and another day with his daughter). We had Bree along today as well.

So in 4 trips to the fair, I consumed--

3 porkchops & 1 chicken breast (all on a stick)
4 malts (1 chocolate and 3 blackberry, my new favorite)
2 corndogs
1 bag of mini-donuts
2 shaved ice
1 scone with fruit
1 chocolate cream puff
1 gelato
1 cashew nut roll
slice of pizza
frozen mocha on a stick
1 order of french fries (shared with Joel)
lots of diet coke
Kashi cereal (they had a travelling exhibit at the start of the fair)
and I'm sure plenty of bites of some other things Joel tried (like corn on the cob, yum!)

I also walked countless miles, observed lots of strange fair outfits, took a ride on the Skyway swing (never again), and was on t.v. during FSN's Twins postgame show (broadcast from the fair). It's probably a good thing the Fair only happens once a year, but I can't wait till it's back...and I'll be there for Opening Day 2008.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Just another hole in my head...

Yup...I survived...and have another hole in my head to show for it. The extraction itself went fairly well. The dentist obviously didn't get the message from his assistants that I wanted the laughing gas and he almost started without the gas...yikes...the gas made all the difference.

The recovery process is not so fun. I'm laying around being a slug. It's a good excuse to veg in front of the t.v. alternating between the Twins game and What Not to Wear.

Just another hot night at our house!

Dental woes

Today is the start of a long weekend for me...long for maybe the wrong reasons. This morning I have a dentist appointment...I'm having a tooth pulled (dentists like to say extracted, but I think pulled sums it up best). Anyone who knows me knows that I have a HUGE dentist phobia. Unfortunately, I also have bad teeth.

The really pissy part of this whole thing is this past January I faced my fears and had 6 teeth pulled! It actually went much better than I ever imagined...but the key in all that was that I was completely knocked out. I woke up with no recollection of what had occurred.

Drugs can be a wonderful thing.

They were supposed to pull then any tooth that was not worth saving. So I'm a bit miffed that now I have to face another extraction. It doesn't boost my faith in dentists. And I will be awake this time. Yes, I'm getting novocaine and laughing gas, but...

Why is it called laughing gas? I don't think I'll be laughing.

But I have to get this done (this tooth has been killing me for the past month)...it will be o.k., right?

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Day 1 in words and pictures

It was far from a perfect weather day at the fair. In fact, as we made our way to the fair around noon on Thursday, it started raining--a light drizzling sort of rain that was never a downpour, but at times annoying. The rain, however, did not curb my enthusiasm for the fair. In fact, I would argue that it was not that bad--it was never hot (in fact it was downright beautiful after the rain ended) and the crowds stayed light.

The rain actually gave me some great photo opportunities. Joel was a great sport and wore the "Target" raincoat, while I wore the less obnoxious "got milk?" raincoat. It made for some amusing photos (see earlier post) and garnered some second looks.

As promised, we started our day out with a pork chop on a stick, followed by a malt. I had a blackberry malt, but I know there is a chocolate malt in my future. Hey, we took the Kashi "get healthy" challenge and snagged a great bag. We went through a lot of buildings in the afternoon, partly in an attempt to stay out of the rain. When the rain really started getting to us, we went to the Coliseum and watched horse jumping. I do this every year. Joel was a little bored, but it gave us a chance to get out of the rain and recharge.

And the rain had ended when we came out. Joel got his second wind (thanks to some mountain dew) and we were good to go. We were able to listen to enjoy some free music performances and more people watching. We stopped at the Fox Sports booth and Roy Smalley was there (we also got to watch the Twins game for a bit). Joel missed the opportunity to snag some autographs, but he did get his pic taken with Smalley (check it out here). We also walked the midway as it was starting to get dark and checked out the birthing barn before heading home.

We managed to put in a 9 hour day at the fair. My body is still recovering (I woke up the next day and felt like I had walked 9 hours on concrete), but I'm already game for a second trip. Joel and I are heading out for our second trip to the fair. There's a chocolate malt with my name on it.