Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Beginning with 376

376. Encouraging words at Bible Study
377. Time to write in the blog
378. Hashbrowns for lunch!
379. Blankets all over the living room
380. Advent candles at night
381. Finding another Anne Lamott book at the thrift store
382. Funky shop next to Savers where I can buy hair accessories for stocking stuffers
383. Swim practice is going SO WELL for Mane
384. Mane is having a great time doing her first fundraiser
385. The sun shining on the pool at the Y
386. HAVING to come to the Y three days a week for swimming
387. Kind police officers when our house alarm goes off for no apparent reason
388. Mane didn't panic about the house alarm!
389. Running into friends at the Y
390. Internet access at the Y
391. Candy from Mexico (goat milk caramel!!)
392. Sleeping under a quilt I made myself!
393. 7 years later I'm finally ready to THINK about making another quilt
394. Reconnecting with old friends
395. No staff meeting tonight for Mango
396. The scarf my sister in law made for me
397. My mom's pearl earrings
398. My gray fuzzy sweater
399. Birds outside the kitchen window
400. Loads of bird books all over the house

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Starting with 361

361. The five of us in the living room with guitars and sheet music, laughing and playing and singing.
362. Movie clips of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
363. The quiet of my living room in the early morning.
364. The ticking of the clock on the mantle.
365. Chanukah lights.
366. Finding out that the Judaica store is still open.
367. Realizing that Advent begins in less than a week!
368. Realizing that I really enjoy making pumpkin pie.
369. Sweet coworkers.
370. Grateful clients, despite what a long difficult day it's been for them.
371. Quick reply to a phone message yesterday.
372. Sleep, enough sleep.
373. Homemade almond milk hot cocoa.
374. Messages from my cousin on facebook.
375. Cleaned out sunroom!!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Starting with 346

346. Mane getting excited about learning Spanish
347. Mane starting swim team at the Y.
348. How much more friendly that Y is than our previous gym.
349. My blood pressure is OK.
350. Seeing Vespera & Niteo today over tea at the kitchen table.
352. Staying calm in the costco craziness...maybe even enjoying seeing people getting ready for the holidays, rather than freaking out over the chaos.
353. Bubbly water with ecodrink.
354. Eyore pj's for Mane for $1 at the thrift store!
355. The book I wanted coming in sooner than expected at the library.
356. Mango's computer works! Yay!
357. My head is OK.
358. Our Thanksgiving jar is filling up!
359. Clay mug with celtic knots for drinking my not-no-coffee this afternoon.
360. Not-no-coffee. Don't ask. :)

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Starting with 341

341. FOUR people responding within half an hour to my email plea for someone to bring treats to Bible study this morning!

342. The gentle words of so many grace-filled Christians in my podcast stream over the last few days. I am so proud of the new voices coming out of the church and all the messages of love, grace, peace & humility finally coming from the Christian community. If you haven't heard them, I recommend:
343. So many women's voices in the larger church community!!

344. The soft yellow of the kitchen walls in the morning

345. Funny little orangutan videos on youtube

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Starting with 326

326. Chicken Chili in the crockpot

327. Egg muffins in the oven to make a week's worth of breakfasts for Mango

328. The teapot heating on the stove

329. Heating pad on a sore back

330. Sprouted wheat bread

331. Lasagna from Vespera

332. Trail mix from Great Harvest

333. People responding to my sympathy post on facebook

334. EcoDrink & bubbly water

335. Homemade candles on the counter

336. Great new/used coat for Mane at savers (spent $19 on a coat that would have been around $200 new!!)

337. A productive, though daunting doctor visit for our sweet little friend, after years of trying to figure things out

338. the Twin Cities mug

339. cell phones when you need them

340. the Bible study blog

Monday, November 11, 2013

Anne Lamott - podcasts

Since I'm sitting here with a concussion, all I can do is listen to podcasts.

Today's collection is all about Anne Lamott!

on This American Life:
Writer Anne Lamott presents an example of what we can learn from music outside of formal classes. She tells the story of an airplane trip, a song, and a small miracle.
on WAMC:
Renowned author Anne Lamott, whose latest work of non-fiction is Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers is in town this morning to speak at Hudson Valley Community College in Troy at 11 AM. We are thrilled she stopped by here first.
on NPR:
As Thanksgiving draws near, many of us are thinking about what we're thankful for — taking time to consider how best to appreciate what we have in our lives. This year, novelist and memoirist Anne Lamott has focused on using prayer to help express our thanks. Many of her books explore how individuals can transform their lives — how one moves from being troubled to feeling whole. In Lamott's case, she suffered from alcoholism and drug abuse; after hitting rock bottom, she found her faith.
on her new book Stitches: A Handbook on Meaning, Hope and Repair:
Best-selling and beloved author Anne Lamott calls life “erratic, beautiful and impossible.” There is so much that makes us happy, that is incredible and joyful in life. But sometimes, life punches us in the gut. And it hurts—a lot and for a long time. Death, illness, national tragedies—they can tear our lives apart. And it doesn’t seem fair, or right. How we deal with these moments, how we make it through—that can define us, she says.  In her new book — “Stitches”— Anne Lamott discuss how to cope with grief and hard times. Up next, On Point: Anne Lamott on dealing with the tough and the sad.
  Anne Lamott Shares Personal Wisdom in 'Plan B':
Anne Lamott is known for her quirky, opinionated and decidedly left-wing take on life. The author of nine previous books, including Hard Laughter and Operating Instructions, Lamott has earned a devoted following — especially among baby boomers — for her essays on faith and everyday life.

Starting with 301

301. A Thanksgiving jar with notes from everyone who has entered our house in the last few days...notes telling what they are thankful for this Thanksgiving season.

302. Pumpkin Bars

303. Another good chiropractor

304. My mom's purple fleece blanket

305. Clean water

306. Not having to look at the screen when I type. (That's for my friends, who know that I'm not supposed to be online with a concussion.)

307. Houseplants

308. Mane reading historical fiction

309. Mane devouring books recommended by her history teacher

310. Mane LOVING to read, despite her reading struggles

311. Vespera stopping by

312. Vespera's kindness and grace toward all kind of different people in the world

313. The little hardware store down the street

314. New tenants, who keep the house clean!

315. New tenants, out how to pick the lock on their bathroom door when they got locked out. Why does the bathroom door have a lock anyway? Seems that previous tenants replaced the knob, and we didn't notice. Huh.

316. Windchimes from my parent's house...a little piece of that place that I can keep with me

317. Jars of all shapes and sizes. They just make me happy.

318. Dried apricots

319. Oatmeal on cold mornings

320. Mango's breakfasts

321. The printer is fixed...and it didn't cost anything this time.

322. My mom's recipes

323. The brand new Urgency Room (UR) where they took such good care of me Saturday night

324.  An UR that gives you a goodie bag on the way out the door?

325. Turkey casserole from my good friend that tasted like Thanksgiving!


Friday, November 08, 2013

Gratitudes - Starting with 267

267. Mane can now make her own gluten free bread!

268. Shabbat at home

269. Fun candles at an estate sale today that we'll use for Shabbat tonight

270. Mane's friend begging to spend the night next Friday!

271. It's only a concussion.

272. Teatime Tuesday

273. Soup made by a good friend!

274. The smells of autumn in my kitchen...pumpkins, sweet potatoes, apples...

275. Lots and lots of applesauce.

276. Lots and lots of fresh pumpkin

277. Mane cleaning up her own mess in the kitchen after making her own gluten free bread.

278. The same bread machine that we got at a garage sale before Mane was born STILL works!

279. A warm kitchen

280. Minneapolis Parks programs...we had so much fun over the summer at music and movies in the park

281. Mane's summer canoeing program

282. Language and culture camp - ran into some people from camp at the Y!

283. Swimming at the Y near home.

284. Fabulous swim team opportunity for Mane

285. Meeting with a great swim team coach for Mane's assessment

286. Mango's video production opportunities

287. Beautiful fall leaves like a big carpet all over the sidewalks this morning!

288. Botany lessons with Mango

289. Harry Potter while snuggled in the living room with a fire in the fireplace.

290. Mane loves to read, despite dyslexia

291. Mane hated science two days ago, but loves it today.

292. Same with writing.

293. Homemade pumpkin cheesecake

294. Homemade pumpkin pie

295. Homemade pumpkin spice frappucino

296. Pumpkin pie spice

297. Vanilla from Mexico

298. Spelling City

299. Documentaries on amazon

300. New Bible study series

Monday, September 16, 2013

Music Monday - Shema by Anne Brooks

We were looking for sabbath music at our house the other night and ran across this beautiful Shema song...

Friday, September 13, 2013

Free & Almost Free Autumn Events 2013 - Twin Cities

In June, I posted about FREE Family Summer Fun events for this year. I'm always sad to see the summer go because fun starts costing a whole lot more as the weather cools here in MN. On the other hand, Autumn is my favorite season. I feel most energized for the school year to start. I love the turning of the leaves, the cooling of the air, the hats and sweaters that start making their way out of the closet, apple cider, and the holidays...

In honor of my favorite season, I've begun compiling a list of the places we go, the things we do, and the resources for fun events in autumn that are in the free-$10 range. I've found that I have more resources that I thought I did, and I discovered a few more while I was digging for links to the "regulars."

Three Rivers Park District:
First, I comb through the event listings for the Three Rivers Parks. You can do a search for something you might enjoy (like apples or archery...). OR you can click on the "Activities" link at the top of the page and sort events by type of activity. OR you can just click on "Events" and read through the whole overwhelming list.

Of note: Silverwood Park's version of the No-Coast Craft-O-Rama on September 21st, family archery at several parks ($7/person), Applefest at The Landing ($5/person) and Folkways of the Holidays at The Landing ($5/person).

Non Fair Events Calendar:
Something new I discovered this year is the Non Fair Events Calendar for the MN State Fair Grounds. Did you know there are events having to do with horses, dogs, reptiles, cars, motorcycles, books, antiques, military relics and furniture?!! Most of these events have completely FREE admission. The one we're looking forward to: Fall Festival Arabian Horse Show.

Apple Orchards near the Twin Cities:
Of course, what would MN be without apple orchards in autumn?! Most have free admission. Many have free hayrides. Save your money for apples, berries, pumpkins, squash, jellies, pies, and honey! We are especially fond of the pick-your-own-pumpkins at Pine Tree Apple Orchard and the Scarecrow Festival at Emma Krumbee's.

Tripoli Minnesota High Power Rocketry Club: 
We had the best time just attending a rocket launch a few years ago! Since then, we've continued to discuss making our own rockets. Even if you don't make one, this is a totally fun family event to attend. Bring a cooler with snacks and drinks, picnic blanket, chairs, sun-brella, and enjoy the show!

Minnesota Historical Society:
Because we have a Minnesota Historical Society (MNHS) Membership, we also scroll through the events calendar for MNHS to see if there's anything we might like to attend. Several of the programs are discounted or free for MNHS members, and many are under $10/person for non-members.

Wild Rice Processing in Onamia (yes, it is a long drive, thank you) is completely free several weekends in September. Old School Minnesota Days at Fort Snelling over MEA weekend are completely free for MNHS members! The Oliver Kelley Farm offers Harvest Days over that same weekend and Christmas on the Farm in December. 

A word about museum memberships...
This is probably the place to say something about not-so-free things in the Twin Cities. Memberships to MNHS and the MN Science Museum can be lifesavers when you're going stir crazy in the winter. You will NOT run out of things to do, even if you go there once a week all through snow season, and you will certainly get your money's worth at that rate! Both museums have wide open spaces to move around and things touch and climb! It is totally possible to pack lunches to eat at either place. So, your total expense is your membership + parking. No need to purchase anything else while you're there. Parking is discounted for members at both museums.

Enjoy your autumn!!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

FREE Family Summer Fun 2013 - Twin Cities and Beyond

It's that time of year again! There are so many things to do in our beautiful city over the summer and so many of them are FREE! I need a place to keep track of them all, and a blog post seemed like the natural place to write it all down and SHARE it, too!!

First and foremost, we headed out to our first Movie in the Park last night! We saw E.T.! So fun to see an old classic on the big screen! There are movies in the park EVERY night in Minneapolis. The inflatable mobile screen makes an appearance at a different park each night. Bring your picnic blankets and/or lawn chairs, snacks, drinks, and bug repellent! We tend to go early to appreciate the playgrounds, pools, splash pads or large fields for flying kites! Lots of kids come in pajamas with their pillows for an easy transition to bed once the movie is over.Check out the schedule here:

Minneapolis Movies in the Park 2013

If the movie of the night isn't your thing or it's too late at night for your kiddos, check out the Music in the Park schedule. Music happens every night at the Lake Harriet Band Shell (7:30PM), Mondays at Nicollet Island (7PM), Tuesdays at Father Hennepin Bluffs (7PM), Wednesday-Friday at Minnehaha Falls (7PM), and Tuesdays & Thursdays at Bryant Square (6:30PM):

Minneapolis Music in the Park 2013

Thursday nights you can head on over to see the Twin Cities River Rats waterski show! Find your seat on the banks of the Mississippi right off West River Road just south of Broadway Avenue. Most shows begin at 7pm. Concessions are usually available. Don't forget your camera! We like to go several times over the summer to watch the performance get better and better over the season:

Twin Cities River Rats

Like to DANCE with your music? Attend one of the Nine Nights of Music at the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul - Tuesdays, July 2nd-August 27th. Dance instruction by the Tapestry Folkdance Center begins at 6:30pm. Concerts are from 7-8:30pm. Each night features a different culture and style of music:

Nine Nights of Music

Ordway's Summer Dance Series also offers free dance lessons and live music at Rice Park in St. Paul on Thursdays beginning this week: June 13th-July 25th. Lessons at 5:30pm, Music at 7:15pm. This series has indoor venues in case of rain. Check out the website:

Ordway's Summer Dance Series

Cromulent Shakespeare Company presents free performances of Romeo and Juliet in various parks around Minneapolis and St. Paul every weekend in June. Friday and Saturday shows are at 7pm. Sunday shows are at 2pm:

Shakespeare in the Park

Open Eye Theatre's Driveway Tour offers puppet shows at parks throughout the city (and surrounding suburbs) all summer long. Performance times range from 10am-7pm. They are offering FOUR different shows this summer! Check it out:

Driveway Tour - Puppet Shows

As the summer winds down, Como Park and Conservatory offers free music, lawn games, bounce house & climbing wall on Wednesday nights - August - mid-September from 6-9pm. A number of other free special events are happening at Como Park. Check out the full schedule here:

Como Park Zoo & Conservatory Special Events

Is it raining or too hot to be outside? Check out:

Minneapolis Institute of Art (always free) or
Walker Art Center (free every Thursday night from 5-9pm and first Saturdays from 10am-3pm)

I like to look through the schedules and mark the movies & concerts we might like to see on my calendar. Then I know what's available if we happen to have free time that night.

Have a GREAT summer!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Thousand Word Thursday

I ran across this photo the other day of Mane & Mango pretending to camp in the dining room, roasting wooden marshmallows over a paper fire when Mane was about 3 years old...

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Thousand Word Thursday

I made this hat for Mane. After months of making hats for Team Yarn...making hats as therapy for my anxiety...therapy for grief, I made this hat for joy. For spring. For Mane. For the daughter who will always be a picture of myself, of my mother, of herself and the joy she brings to me. I am thankful today for her companionship, for her growing maturity, for her sense of self and self-motivation, for her spirit and her sense of style. I love you, dear one. Happy Spring!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Music Monday - Zach Sobiech

If you can handle any more cancer heartbreak...any more sweetness mixed with a great deal of bitter...any more beautiful in the midst of ugly...I invite you to check out the story and music of Zach Sobieck, a MN high school senior with osteosarcoma. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Music Monday ~ It is Well by Josh Wilson

I found this instrumental rendition of It is Well by Josh Wilson when I was looking for music to go with the slideshow of my mom. It remains one of my favorites. 

If you like acoustic and you like instrumental, I think you'll appreciate this. If you know of similar artists/music, I'd love to look them up. Leave your suggestions in the comments!

Monday, January 07, 2013

Epiphany - Three Kings Day

We totally missed Three Kings Day here at The Midnight Cafe! So, we'll be celebrating tonight, a day late.

Three Kings Day wraps up the 12 Days of Christmas and celebrates the Wise Men, who followed the star and came to see Jesus. Significantly, the wise men were Gentiles. So, Three Kings Day is a celebration of the Messiah coming to both Jews and Gentiles, for the salvation of the whole world.

So, tonight, we will light three candles, including one scented with frankincense, to represent the three wise men (though we know there may have been more), read the story of the wise men from the Bible, and listen to the song We Three Kings. 

There are many, many ways to celebrate Epiphany. I just heard yesterday of a family that invites all their friends to bring their Christmas trees and have a huge bonfire on Epiphany. It is a tradition for many families to take down their tree and Christmas decor on this day. Some surprise their children with a few small gifts under the tree that are revealed once the tree is lifted from its stand.

Three Kings Day is commonly celebrated in Hispanic traditions with a King Cake, which hides a figure of the baby Jesus. This represents the flight of the child Messiah from King Herod. The person who finds the figure is supposed to invite everyone to their home for a party on February 2nd, 40 days after Christmas, and serve tamales and atole.

Three Kings Day is a great day for making star crafts with the kiddos: