I’ve reflected sufficiently on 2011: the good, the bad, the ugly. And, my inner list-maker has been satisfied with pages of big ideas for the new year. It’s time to plunge in and make these things happen!
But before I do: There were a lot of things (and people!) in 2011 that life generally more awesome, or at least more interesting. So, today I raise a fist-pump to the some of the things I enjoyed in 2011- local and otherwise, which maybe you will enjoy, too.
In no particular order…
1. Oregon: Yes, the state. If you haven’t been there, you should start making plans. We drove the Oregon coast after our wedding in May, and it was breathtaking. There was every type of beauty: the ocean, the Redwoods, mountains, and the surroundings changed drastically from one minute to the next. Oregon has a little of it all. I didn’t make it to Portland, but have a feeling that I would fit in just fine.
2. Open Eye Figure Theater: Ben pointed out that the best entertainment is a really well made children’s theatre production, which can actually be even more enjoyable and relevant for adults. I’d never seen the Open Eye’s work before going to The Learning Fairy this year, and my mind was a bit blown. I was so charmed by the stand-out performers (every one of them), the dancing, the subject matter (hippie shit like SHARING), the music (seamlessly integrated into the show), and the brightly colored set and costumes. To top it all off, there were about thirty kids in the audience that were as charmed as I was, and watching really overjoyed kids is one of life’s nicest things. I was inspired that there was SO MANY POSSIBILITIES with a little tiny stage and a relatively simple story. I look forward to Open Eye’s upcoming shows!
3. Spilled Milk: Food writers Molly Wizenberg and Matthew Amster-Burton join together to cook something or discuss some kind of foodie goodness every couple of weeks, and record it for all of us to listen to. One week they discussed Chocolate, another Bahn Mi. The best part is that they are having a damn good time hanging out, and their enthusiasm and lack of reverence in the kitchen is contagious.
4. Friday Night Lights: I heard it was about football, and I didn’t really care to hear more. BUT, this television series (based on a movie, which is based on a book) completely stole by heart. Ben and I cried watching more episodes than I care to admit, and Tami and Eric Taylor have one of my favorite (functional!) television relationships. Watching this show was a stellar to pass winter.
5. Kathleen Shannon and Tara Street at Braid Creative: Kathleen and Tara are sisters who started a creative consulting and branding business together, and I love how they inspire creative, big thinking. You can follow Kathleen’s lifestyle blog Jeremy & Kathleen, or read Tara’s stories of her family at Kind of a Sideshow. I love the way they infuse their business with their personalities and heart, as well as the practical advice they offer for people trying to make a living doing what they love.
6. Moksha Yoga Minneapolis: I made the lucky purchase of a 60 day yoga pass to Moksha for a ridiculously low price. Doing (almost) daily yoga reminded me that moving my body is one of the best things I can do for my anxiety-prone mind, and I’ve been on the exercise bandwagon ever since (although, sadly, at a more humble location). This studio is one of the most comfortable and affirming in the area (I’ve tried quite a few), and I loved that class didn’t feel like a competition for the most expensive yoga pants or exceptional class performance. Bonus: the heat during winter.
7. Give To The Max Day: On November 16, Minnesotans came together to support their favorite non-profits over 24 hours. Many of the donations were matched by corporations or larger donors, so just $25 dollars sometimes became $50. This year was my first participating, and I loved picking out some of my favorite theatres and organizations to support– even if it was just with a few dollars. It reminded me that when we all work together, a little money can go a long way.
8. Chopped: We had a Chopped-inspired dinner party with friends, watched episode marathons (while eating, naturally), and were inspired to try new ingredients and cook more often. Wildest ingredient used on an episode? Maybe rocky mountain oysters, which aren’t oysters at all.
9. 112 Eatery: In all honesty, I didn’t discover 112 this year, but I did go there more often. And I did vow to proclaim the goodness of their scallops with oyster mushrooms FOREVER AND EVER AMEN.
10. Ice Cube Balls: I bought Ben these spherical ice cube molds, so that we could make play a game called Bradstreet Crafthouse when we don’t have the money or time to go to my favorite bar in the Twin Cities. The bartenders at the Bradstreet can give you the very scientific reasoning as to why these ice cube spheres are far superior to other ice– basically they melt more slowly, so your bourbon will be chilled rather than diluted. Bonus: ice balls are fun to look at, especially in a lowball.
11. The Pizza Farm: The Pizza Farm (officially known as AtoZ Produce and Bakery) in Stockholm, Wisconsin is pretty much as magical as it was promised to be. I got to pet baby animals and eat delicious pizza made with ingredients from the farm. And, escaping from the city to rustic farmland is necessary sometimes. They are open every Tuesday 4:30-8:00 March-November. BYOB and place to sit.
What made 2011 more fun for you?