In an essay written from her hospital bed on Valentine's Day, author Amy Krouse Rosenthal implored her readers to consider why "You May Want to Marry My Husband." She was in the final stages of a battle against ovarian cancer. "I'm facing a deadline," she wrote.Read More
This photo is my sister's family room. I hope by now you can recognize my touch. She and I worked hard to accessorize that large expanse of shelving. Bookcases are difficult to make cohesive. I'll let you in on a couple of tricks.Read More
Recently, I attended Alt Summit, a conference for creative entrepreneurs. Alt Summit used to be held in Salt Lake City, Utah, a logical setting for a conference organized by members of the Church of Latter Day Saints. I've attended twice in that location. But this year, founder Gabrielle Blair moved the whole shebang to Palm Springs, California, and the new setting made a big difference for some interesting reasons.
Iconic Desert Modern Style Made Us Swoon
Palm Springs is a mecca of modern architectural design, and we couldn't stroll for a cup of coffee without tripping over midcentury masterpieces. Rumor has it that Alt Summit's overall social engagement was 60% higher this year, which can only be good news for the organizers.
People We Admire Got Up and Told the Truth
Bloggers are so secretive about their numbers and it drives me crazy. Everything is sunshine and roses until it's not. For once, many of the speakers shared honest information about the ups and downs of their careers. And in a striking break from tradition, politics came up. Perhaps leaving Utah was more than a venue change. Maybe founder Gabrielle Blair felt more free to discuss issues close to her heart. Overall, the keynote speeches were a refreshing change from the follow-your-dreams drivel that usually prevails at conferences like this.
Best Part of the Conference? My Gang.
We four found each other last year at Alt and it was what I call a Bridges of Madison County thing where within three days, we just knew. Our bond was for real.
And if last year was the courtship, this year was the honeymoon in Tahiti. We roomed together and Oh Em Gee, what colossal fun! Also, we learned this scientific fact: despite being older than the rest of the attendees, when we four are together, our collective age decreases exponentially with each passing minute. Very strange.
Since Alt, we regularly connect via video conference calls where the one unspoken rule is "no make-up" and that includes Chapstick. We keep each other on track and give honest feedback.
I thought I'd share some of their takeaways from Alt Summit.
Brooke Hatfield, a designer, is one half of Designers Collective based in Vancouver. She said, "Things don't have to be perfect before you start something. You can keep redefining your goals and business as you go. Just try something and if it doesn't work, don't take it personally. Learn from it and try again."
Paige Lewin, a designer and blogger at Tess and Ted, said, "You meet certain successful bloggers and you realize that they are just as questioning and unsure as we are. No matter what your level, you have to deal with self-doubt."
Tina Dhillon (next to me in blue) is an architect and the other half of Designers Collective. She said, "We like being with the younger people. We like their energy. And they like us. They like our confidence."
And I say, "At Alt this year, my mind could absorb more information because I could relax in the knowledge that the room contained friends. Forget a business plan. Find your tribe."
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Against a wintry backdrop, a man peruses a magazine while a woman shovels snow behind him. The couple are Don and Dottie Hagan, of Des Moines, Iowa, and something about their photo reminds me of Grant Wood's painting, American Gothic. Do you see it too? The Iowa setting, Don's deadpan expression, that shovel, the house in the background.
Unlike American Gothic's subjects, who were father and daughter, Don and Dottie are husband and wife. You won't be surprised to learn that they have been married for fifty-six years.
When I saw this photo, my first question was who took it?Read More
That very dashing young man in the header photo is my friend Max. As a film student, he produced both of the videos for Finder Not Keeper. We go back a long way. Late last year, he baited his Facebook hook with a very juicy worm of an opinion and the following conversation ensued through texts and Facebook messages. Max's commentary is gray. Mine is green and blue. We both use swears.Read More
Mr. Grant must be scowling at the news, and not because of the usual bumbling incompetence in the WJM-TV newsroom, but because his best hire ever, Mary Richards, has finally let him down.
Mary Tyler Moore passed away this week and right now, all I want to do is pull out a hide-a-bed, grab a box of kleenex and mourn Mary the way that she mourned Chuckles the Clown. Laughter and tears.Read More
I've always struggled with deadlines. Procrastination and I go way back. I tried to dump Procrastination but he was like the Navy seaman Jon Something-or-other who had a thing for me in 1979 and kept popping up outside our kitchen window, scaring the bejeezus out of my poor mother, until 1984 when he showed up AWOL and got put in the brig and finally left me alone.Read More
You did not misread that headline. I'm not writing about a "cold snap." In my Wisconsin world, this is "cold crack" season and I dread it like I dread a pile of unfolded fitted sheets.
To be honest, it's not exactly the crack that's cold. It's the upper jowls of the buttocks that retain coldness with an awful tenacity.
But "cold crack" has a nice ring to it. It's an anatomical alliteration that was invented by my friend Mike. He talks in rapid fire double entendres and makes puns in his sleep.Read More
I used to work in the adult fiction room at a suburban library -- the greatest job I ever held. It was better even than working as a counselor at a French camp where I received $200 a week for making moon eyes at a guy named Jean-Michel from Winnipeg. At the library, I brewed coffee, compiled reading lists, led a monthly book discussion, recommended titles to patrons, and never ceased to be amazed that every ten days, someone handed me a check for such "labor."Read More
No photoshop here. This is an actual snapshot of my high school classmate, circa 1980. (To protect his identity, we can call him "Ken Nelson.") On the eve of another New Year's, let's talk about that cliché of all clichés: high school parties. If you hate reading about stupidity in action, skip to the end of this post. You'll see an odd little party accessory from 1941 that I am selling. The proceeds will go towards an old debt incurred during the most epic high school party I ever had the good fortune to attend. However, if you got a thrill out of the cracked Steuben egg in Risky Business, then read on.Read More
I don't know where to begin with this post because it is about loss and suffering - tough subjects to write about at Christmas time. But the truth is, this season is difficult for many people. Sadness does not take a holiday.
And Genna, the lovely young woman in the vintage dress, knows this too well.Read More
We are just back from a quick trip to London and Paris where we saw old friends, made new friends, and shopped flea markets under a warm winter sun. We had other touristy adventures as well but I'm limiting this post to "friends" and "flea". No Eiffel Tower pics today, sorry!Read More
I'm begging you. Make a decision this holiday season to consider a vintage or antique gift. In fact, I'll make you a deal. If you purchase an antique or vintage gift for a loved one that doesn't bowl them over, get in touch with me here and I will make you an offer. (White elephants excepted.)
If you are already a convert who knows that plastic has its limits, then skip to the bottom of this post for a bonus quiz with a prize involved. It is the season of giving!Read More
My dad grew up in Hamadan, Iran, one of the oldest cities in the world. Situated in the shadow of the Zagros Mountains, Hamadan is also one of the coldest places in Iran. My dad remembers winters so frigid, the dead could not be buried.
Moving to Chicago wasn't a complete weather shock for my dad, though he admits questioning the whole idea of a tornado - it's just wind! - until the day he saw a Chevy Impala lifted off the pavement in front of his in-law's house.Read More
This house-shaped photograph tells all my dirty secrets: I have an unnatural fixation on objects; I might be mildly OCD; and Jane Austen is my spirit animal.
And you thought this was just another Pinterest-worthy photo taken from a birds-eye view?
Actually, this type of birds-eye photograph is technically called "flat lay" and thanks to Instagram, it has swept the visual world. Objects loosely arrayed in a pleasing composition on a neutral background and photographed in natural light that allow the viewer a new view of everyday things. Open any magazine and you'll see flat lay photography everywhere. (#flatlaystyle #flatlayoftheday)Read More
Do you see the Bells of Victory songbook discreetly perched here on my bar? This Temperance Society hymnal belonged to my grandmother, a teetotaler from a long line of teetotalers. I'm not sure how this book came to be in my possession but I absolutely treasure it in a vaguely irrational way. In fact, I've just spent $150 having it rebound by a professional book restorer and it was worth every penny.
For those of you who snoozed through the lesson on the temperance movement and prohibition, let's do a quick review.Read More
I'm leaving on a jet plane. No, not headed to Canada, though it feels good, getting off this planet, even temporarily. The plane ascends rapidly and I let out more breath the higher we climb.
Visibility is excellent today. We are nearing Chicago and there is the distinctive lacy dome of the Baha'i Temple. A moment later, Wrigley Field, which for all its larger-than-life history, looks so small, like Casey's diamond in Mudville. Then, south of the skyscrapers, the large swathe of green in Hyde Park where President Obama will build his library.Read More
The election season has been a pox upon us all. With one more week to go and no sign of relief, how do we inoculate ourselves from this madness? Humor, my friend. Humor.
In that spirit, let's address the question of who among our candidates and their spouses is truly qualified to carry out the heavy responsibility of picking out presidential china.
Before you call me frivolous and click away, give me a moment to make my case.Read More
Hanging in our back hall is a poster, “The Rules to Always Being a Gentleman.” Please take a moment to read it. Catchy and clever, right?! I bought it on Etsy and when my son was moving into his new apartment, I offered to get him one too.
He said “No, thank you.”
“Why in the world not?” I asked.Read More
Paul Kantner, rhythm guitarist of Jefferson Airplane, once said, "If you can remember anything about the 60s, you weren't really there." Luckily, posters like this gem still exist as reminders of that craaazy time. The title of the poster is "Groovy Happening Sunday Afternoon", and it depicts the Summer of Love, the giant messy five-month music fest/love-in that took place in San Francisco in the summer of 1967.Read More