2022 punch list

does anyone else feel like 2020 and 2021 just crept along, mocking us by somehow having extra days and months that no one saw coming yet everyone felt? then january 2022 came ... and stayed ... and lollygagged ... and finally came to an end, only to have february shoot past like it barely happened?

just me?

anyway, it's march. MARCH. and ... almost mid-march. how? and ... how??

for the first time in a long, long, long time, i feel cautious optimism about moving forward into a new year. from october until the end of january, we had so. much. stress. like ... every day and week brought something that felt like that jenga block that slides out easily but then sticks at the end, and the whole tower wobbles while you're stuck, able to neither move forward nor backward. but as february left the building, the universe lightened, and things felt ... better.

(i mean, ukraine notwithstanding. or all the anti-gay and anti-choice bills being passed and proposed. and my general anxiety and disgust at what is happening to this country. but still: spring is coming, hey?)

we've filled the past year with fun, take-your-mind-off-reality projects that are mostly finished, but there are a few loose ends to tie, and a new project on the horizon about which i'm currently obsessing.

the upstairs guest room is pretty much done, i just need to take real, good photos with the real, good camera. (and maybe get some new bedding. but let's not mention that to marc.)



the basement guest room is done, with the exception of finding and hanging art. that's my spring project.




(i guess now we need guests ...)

main floor bathroom is done, just hasn't been captured on the real camera yet, either.



and now that the "final tweak" list is short, my mind has obviously turned to a new subject:

the basement.






(yes, the last time i took photos of the basement was christmas 2015.)

the basement has not been a priority project for me on any level since we moved in. it holds all of our furniture from our last house, it's functional, it's comfortable. marc is down there daily to work, but i rarely visit. when company does come, it's a great place to hang out, play games, watch movies. both of our kids have filled it with friends on many occasions, but those days are waning, and we are starting to think ahead about this space.

marc has waited patiently for 10 years to put up surround sound and make the tv room of his dreams. last year on black friday, he finally put all of his research and collected best buy gift cards to use and purchased the hardware ... and it's all still in boxes in the corner. we were talking about those boxes the other day, and he pulled out a speaker to show me. turns out, they are all going to be larger and more, "hey! i'm a bunch of big black boxes on your walls!" than i'd anticipated, knowing literally nothing about surround sound. he then mentioned that maybe we need to revisit the idea of putting up a wall between the tv area and game area, to keep the sound more contained. and my brain was then off on spontaneous pro/con list making.


a wall would create separate spaces, so we could paint the tv room a dark color and hide the speakers.

the opposite side of the wall could be built-in storage cabinets, for all the small, seasonal storage that i've wished i had over the years.

a wall would help support the ceiling right in a spot where it has been determined to crack for the last few years.


um ... we have to spend money?


couldn't think of a real con, to be honest.

we have a natural separation point between the two spaces, which you can see in the third basement photo above. that's right where we would put the wall. the game side of the room would stay relatively untouched; the biggest change would be a wall of cabinets. i'm inspired by these looks ...









other than that, no big disruptions. the current table and chairs would need to downsize; i'm thinking a round table with four or six upholstered chairs ... something comfortable to sit in and hang out. it also hits a nostalgic spot for me, remembering my grandparents' house and the game table they had in their great room. the orange chairs were cozy, had low arms, and both swiveled and rolled. there was always a game or art project or puzzle happening at that table. changing the table would also mean changing the light above it, but we have an unused five-arm chandelier that should fit the bill, at least for the time being.

the biggest change would be on the other side of the wall. wanna see where my head is going?












omg SOOOO dark and moody and enveloping!

it all started with needing walls as dark as possible to camouflage the speakers. next consideration was a leather sofa. marc has always wanted a leather sofa, and since this is kinda his space, we're going for it. we want to re-use our black media cabinet and console table, but that's pretty much all we're keeping. since we're going to get rid of the sectional, i'll need a place to sit; marc likes sofas that you sink into, but i need more support, so a chair for me is on the list. and while marc thinks this might be a good time to replace the carpet, i don't want to commit to that. the only carpet in the basement that needs to be replaced at some point is on the stairs, and if we're going to change the tv room, we might as well change it all, and frankly, i'd rather sink the money into THE couch and THE chair. and he wants THE tv. so: area rug is our compromise.

after considering two different sofas, two different wall colors, four different rugs, three different wall lights, and two different chairs for me, we have landed on this:



the only things we know for sure on this board are the sofa, the ottoman, the black pieces that we already own, likely the lights, and probably the swivel chair. i love the rug, and he likes it better than the more turkish-type patterns i was initially considering. we may use table lamps that we currently have upstairs in the great room versus adding a floor lamp by the couch. the curtains might be a bit too "patterned" and girly for his taste, and the art may go in the "minimalist movie poster" direction. but the general feel is there. and i'm super excited.

two weeks ago we went to four different stores to sit in leather sofas. we thought we found the perfect one at rejuvenation, then we sat in the maxwell sofa at restoration hardware, and that was it. love at first butt-on-cushion.



which, let's be honest, reminded me a lot of when marc sat on another restoration hardware sofa eleven years ago, fell in love, and totally changed the vision i'd had for the great room.




minneapolis has a restoration outlet, so i checked it out on monday, and lo ... they had the exact maxwell we want: right size, right depth, right cushions ... wrong color. but is the color a deal-breaker if we could save a bunch of money on it? marc went with me on tuesday and we examined the sofa all over, looked at every scratch and mark to see if there were any red flags. in the end, there was some wear on a corner that concerned us, and some stitches on the edge of an arm appeared to be coming loose, and we decided if we're spending that much on a piece of furniture, we wanted it to be the color we wanted, and without possible problems.

we did, however, leave with a lovely upholstered cocktail table to put in front of a sofa we don't yet have in a room that's not yet in progress.

and that's where we are. now we wait for contractors to call us back, because until a hammer swings, it's all just hypothetical.

as my crush, rachel maddow, says: "watch this space."

after the break

october is my favorite month - and our busiest month. those two things fight with each other annually, so this year i decided to consciously, intentionally take in as much of those 31 days as i could. no blogging, just being in the days and the moments.

and there were some good moments.

at the beginning of the month, i started an eight-week writing workshop at modernwell in minneapolis, led by new york times bestselling author marya hornbacher. it's been so good to sit in a room of smart, creative women to talk about writing, encourage each other, learn from someone who has been there and has a clear, strong voice to share. the prompts and challenges have re-lit a fire in me, and i've been producing work for the first time in way too long.


elizabeth finally went pink, and loves it so, so much.



and her sweetie-pie bestfriend boyfriend showed up with pink flowers to celebrate.


we decided a week before my parents visited for the first time in two years that it was the perfect time to deconstruct the basement guest room and redo it. bad judgment on our part, as always. someday we will learn.


we took a quick road trip to iowa to cheer on our firstborn at a swim meet.


and then went right back to working on the guest room.


marc and i celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary by doing something i've wanted to do since, literally, the day we got married:

had taken the couple photos we should have gotten on our wedding day, but World's Worst Wedding Photographer failed to do.



oh ... and we also went out for french food at my favorite restaurant, st genevieve. that was good, too.


i ran out of paint - twice - while trying to get the guest room done. a day before my parents arrived, i gave up, moved the furniture back in, and left one whole wall taped up and in need of a second coat.


my parents arrived and we had a great, fast two days with them, going to market bbq, which my mom saw on food tv and requested (and we ate outside at a picnic table on a 45 degree day because it was take-out only), the immersive van gogh experience, took a walk on the trail by our house, played games, and just hung out to enjoy the company.








elizabeth made a kick-ass drawing for class ...


i said, "see ya never again" to my 50th pound ...


and the world looked gorgeous.


i took elizabeth to her first concert - courtship and dayglow at first ave, the iconic minneapolis venue.



later that week, henry came home to surprise marc for his birthday, and of course our first stop was sushi.


on marc's birthday, we took him to ifly to do some indoor skydiving.


then went out for lobster rolls.

that night, eliz went to a dungeons & dragons "dress as your character" halloween party, dressed as a plant magic druid on vacation.



and the next day, halloween, marc and i went to a party of our own. the theme was "swords & sorcery," so naturally, jon snow and melisandre seemed appropriate.


and that was it. october was over. nearly on cue, the leaves fell off the trees on november 1st, and we woke to frost.


i truly don't know where 2021 has gone. as long as 2020 felt, this year has made up for it by going warp speed.

now we will look forward to the upcoming holidays, pulling out twinkle lights and christmas decorations, having henry home for longer visits, and cozying up for the cold months.

truth is, the coming months are my favorite, too. bring on the cozying, i say.



taking a day

i dropped everything yesterday and drove 3.5 hours to visit my firstborn, who needed some mama time. (or i needed firstborn time; it can be debated either way.) he's dealing with the hard things that come from being in your last year of college: the big decisions, the exhaustion, the frustration and anxiety, the sadness of watching friends move on and away. i couldn't fix those bigger, more existential things, but i could buy him some new sneakers and groceries and lunch.

he's still my baby, even if he is 6'3" and almost 22.


there's a lot of stuff coming his way, and i hope he is able to take the time to just enjoy this last year. there might be grad school, or there might be a break. there might be a plan, or there might be new outlooks. nothing is sure or squared away, which ... that's a good lesson to learn now. how much of life is EVER squared away? or figured out?

i don't envy this generation coming to age in all the chaos of the world. and yet ... my parents came of age in the chaos of the late 60s. my generation came of age in the chaos of the 80s and 90s. does any generation ever really have a GOOD era to grow in? that's how we learn and develop worldview.

i actually have a lot of faith in these Gen Zs, and if they can make it through the last 18 months (or, last five years, really) and whatever comes next, they might just be a Great Generation in their own right.

there will be a lot for them to fix, i have a feeling.

which totally explains the weight on the shoulders of kids like henry. it's a lot, and i'm sure looking eight months in the future - at flying out of the college nest and into the world - seems daunting.

but for yesterday, we just took time to chat, watch funny videos he'd saved for me, and just BE. and that's necessary now and then, when everything else is shadowed by a question mark.


happy art-urday! it's a new thing. i just invented it. (i think ... maybe i should have googled before typing that.)

i hope you were able to have some time to get your fingers dirty or painty or markery or gluey or whatever your medium. it's good for the soul and the brain, isn't it?

today didn't start as art-urday. i woke, had my coffee, watched some tv, snuggled the cat. around 10 a.m., marc and i went to the farmer's market to get some tomatoes, and we discovered that it was simultanously our town's annual art walk a few blocks off from downtown, where the market tents were set up. the art walk is usually in october, when the leaves are golden and the walk down pleasant street (seriously ... that's it's name) feels like a fairy tale. we wandered through all the booths and talked to a number of artisans, saw and hugged our son's former girlfriend at her booth, and then headed for home.

as i started a pot of beef and mushroom stew, inspired by the wild mushrooms we bought from the mushroom lady at the market, i started to get the itch to create art. seeing all the work on pleasant street inspired me ... it wasn't all great, but it was all made with love and passion. i get too scared of not creating "the right way" or "something worthy" and just ... don't create. but today i felt ready.

we have a framed print in the bookshelves by our fireplace, and it's very spring/summer in color. i decided we needed a more autumnal piece, and pulled out my watercolors.

and it felt scary. and stressful. but then i got over that, and just painted.





i was thinking of a wide open meadow, with a moody autumn sky and bright colors on the distant woods, as viewed through a tilt shift camera, so only the woods were in focus.

it's been a long time since i've held a paintbrush with intention. and you know what? my picture isn't perfect, it isn't great, but it made me happy.

go make yourself happy by doing some art.

happy art-urday!

the most wonderful time of the year is here!

i love fall. love. LOVE.

how could anyone not?

every fall, i start to crave cozier colors, slower days, soups, walks, family, books, warm drinks. this is the beginning of the time of year where i always find peace ... the "hygge" way of life was something i ascribed to and desired before it was even a thing people outside of scandinavia knew about.

it's here, and i couldn't be happier.




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|my photo, while taking a walk|


go enjoy the changing of the season!!

almost to the finish line

let me tell you about this little bathroom:

when we built 10 years ago, we were exhausted and over budget by the time we got to the bathrooms in the basement and off the mudroom, so we went as cheap and standard as possible. the only things i requested were specific tile in each shower because that would be more expensive to change later, and specific finishes on each vanity - again, something i didn't want to mess with later.

the mudroom bathroom is our most used, it's the one every person who comes to our house sees, and it was the least interesting room in the house. for years i've wanted to give it a makeover, and now we finally have.


i've known for seven years that this room needed different lights and plumbing fixtures; i wasn't thrilled with the modern edge of either since our house was trying to walk the line between vintage and farmhouse. the room was also screaming for wallpaper, as nearly all small bathrooms are, and i was pretty sure the wallpaper needed to be black. for the longest time i was determined to get nina campbell's perroquet ...


but at the end of the day, it was way out of budget and i needed to make a more realistic choice. i explored some other options and found a pretty plaid one and a floral, both from york.


the concensus in my house was the floral, but i had to cool my heels as i figured out everything else i wanted to change in the room (because obviously the project would snowball out from wallpaper), and we had to grow the bathroom fund to cover it all.

well, in the past couple of months we finally made it happen. i scheduled a wallpaper hanger, then changed my mind about the wallpaper at literally the last possible minute, when i talked myself into getting the one i really wanted - hydrangeas, from rifle paper co, which was more than the floral, less than the parakeets, but also i loved it more and decided if we're doing this, we're going to do it right. the wallpaper hanger was here in august, all the extras were ordered, the plumber put in all the new fixtures a couple of weeks ago, and today the lights came.

sneak peek ... because i need to put up some art and give the room a good clean before i take pix with the real camera. and i'm not being hyperbolic when i say this might be my favorite room in the whole house now. quite the upgrade from Most Boring Room In The House.





and let me just say that it's okay to live in a house for awhile before you get it right. budgets take time, collecting things takes time, figuring out what the house wants takes time. in the end, it's worth it to wait for what you want than to waste money on "good enough," because "good enough" is rarely good enough, know what i mean?

stopping to take a look around

in my last post, i quoted ferris bueller telling us to stop and look around at life.

this morning, elizabeth and i did just that.

we were in the car on the way to school, and as we came around a curve we saw the loveliest sky, with puffy clouds all lit up with the rising sun, and opposite them, a bright corona gilding the top edge of a bank of clouds. we looked at each other and smiled and said, "good clouds!" she tried to take a photo through the windshield, but i told her that would never do, pulled over, and opened the sun roof for her.


and in that moment, i didn't care about the schedule, i didn't care about traffic getting slower with each moment i delayed getting us to the highway, i didn't care whether we pulled into the parking lot five minutes after the bell. i wanted this moment with her, capturing the perfect sunrise on a gorgeous september day.

sometimes a beautiful sky means more than staying on schedule.

we listened to ferris, and we grabbed that fleeting moment of 7:22 a.m.

and it was good.


going cozy



this is where we are now. all of the stress of 2020, with all of the acquiescence and zero effs left of 2021. we just made it through the hottest summer on record, the worst wildfire season (which is still happening), hurricane season is upon us, my area is still in drought, all the lingering and growing political garbage from the right, and the pandemic has morphed into some crazy variant that has seemingly rebooted everything and yet people seem to care even less.

i'm tired. are you tired?

so let's embrace all that sucks, wrap it up in a soft blanket, give it a warm beverage, and head into fall with one eye on finding some peace in all of this, and the other on not letting the assholes win.

how am i cozying right now?

one, i just bought a dress/nightgown/piece of heaven that has pockets. POCKETS, i said. and it is my new favorite thing in the world.



two, i've started to bring out autumn colors around the house. this is one of the happiest things i do in the fall. when the sun is lower, the afternoon glow is deeper, and the reds from the trees outside reflect on the warmer colors in the house, it all just feels like a big hug.




three, this coffee. it's fantastic. and so fall-cozy.



four, pulling out these blankets around the house. we've been selling them for a few years, importing them from ecuador from marc's brother, whose ministry we are helping support with the sales. they are literally our favorite blankets in the house, especially this time of year.



five, a new pair of haflinger slippers. i buy a pair every two or three septembers ... my own little "back to school" shopping treat. i wear these babies from 6 a.m. until 10 p.m. every day, unless i leave the house. they are so comfortable and supportive (especially great if you have bad feet, like i do), and i'm eager to get my hands on some new ones. i literally wear them into the ground before replacing them, and it's well past time.


six, new candles. my perennial favorites:

sweet vanilla cinnamon

moso bamboo

amalfi jasmine

fir & suede


what are you doing to cozy up and shut out the world?



the big year

when the ball dropped on 2021 in january, my first thought was, "this is the year we get rid of trump!" immediately followed by, "my kids turn 21 and 16 this year." yikes. then i did the math and realized that we will also celebrate our 25th anniversary in october.

wha ... ?? how?!

where does time go? and i ask that in the literal sense ... where?? does it go???

we were just here ...


having fun, making out, semi-serious about Forever.

then he graduated. and bought a ring. and i said yes. then i graduated. then we did the thing ...


three months after we got married, we moved to minneapolis in a blizzard. a year and a half later, we bought a little blue fixer upper ...

Photo2 10-1-96 1_12 AM

and things were great. we were chugging right along, living our lives, then BAM.


and ... that was unexpected.

marc was swamped with prepping for y2k at work, i was working in publishing while growing a child, life still felt normal. then the new millenium dawned, henry arrived nearly two weeks early, and we've been at warp speed ever since.

(and yeah ... my swimmer was practically born in a speedo.)


five years went by in a blur, we moved to the 'burbs, had another baby ...


and then WHAM.


this year, baby boy turned old enough to order a beer with me and start his last year of undergrad ...


and baby girl started her junior year of high school ...


and in a few weeks, we will hit the silver anniversary.

just ... stop it, time!

remember when you were a kid, and your parents and your friends' parents had their 25th anniversary? and they seemed SO middle aged??

why don't i feel middle aged? i certainly don't feel like an ADULT. 47 is not as old as it used to be, right?

it can't be. (and ... did our parents also feel like they couldn't possibly be middle aged? we never saw it, because to us, parents were just old. that was just fact.)

as i sit here, i'm listening to nirvana, marc is across the street shooting baskets ... it feels like any minute we're going to meet at the dining commons for dinner. but we aren't; we aren't 21 anymore. instead, we're going to make tacos and probably be in bed by 10. because we're exhausted by friday. and eliz has to be at work at 10 a.m. ... and i think we will probably go to the farmer's market for veggies and maybe some kielbasa from the meat guy.

and that's how time jumbles in my head. i feel simultaneously 21 and 47, and have no clue where the intervening 26 years have gone.

i truly hope it slows down one of these days; in the immortal words of ferris beuller,

“life moves pretty fast. if you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

smart man, ferris. who, by the way, is obviously still 17, not 52. 




i got a text from my daughter, asking me to please help her with an essay on antigone tonight. which means i have to re-read antigone for the first time in more than 25 years.

will be back tomorrow.