December 2015 highlights
December by the numbers
Numbers will be updated on January 1, 2016.
This year we tackled a large project to update and in my opinion upgrade our home's appearance and energy efficiency.
Craftsman's Choice, Inc.
We used Hirshfield's in-home design service for our window treatments
Related: 40x40 List
Date completed: Saturday, December 26 and Sunday, December 27, 2015
I'll admit it - walking a marathon is a breeze compared to going a weekend without screens. They are everywhere! Most of us interact with a variety of screens multiple times a day both for practical reasons and out of habit. Considering the fact that I work on websites for a living, I am not about to advocate for avoiding screens all the time or even most of the time but after this exercise, I do think it is restorative and eye-opening to take periodic breaks.
What does "screen-free" mean?
To me, it meant avoiding the use of computers, tablets, smart phones, televisions, and movie screens. If you want to get technical about the definition of a screen (as my scientist hubby does), I suppose I made exceptions for our alarm clock, the microwave and oven clock, and my FitBit.
Set email auto-responder. My personal email auto-response was:
Subject: I'm enjoying a screen-free weekend
I'm taking a break from screens until Monday, December 28. If needed, please contact Scott Nivens at [email address].
Inform people most likely to contact me. Several of my neighbors let me know their holiday travel schedule so I let them know the two days when they'd need to contact Scott instead of me if anything came up.
Print key information. I knew I wanted to write and address our holiday greeting cards during my screen-free weekend so I printed out the address list ahead of time. For future screen-free breaks, I know I'll need to consider information that I normally access online and print it in advance or make other arrangements.
Update social media status. I didn't bother letting people know I was taking a break from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. but some people may feel more comfortable taking a vacation from screens if people know why they aren't posting for a few days.
Things I did in lieu of screen-time
Because my family and I couldn't rely on passing time with our screens, we got creative! I'm not sure we would have done the following had it not been for my self-imposed screen vacation:
What I missed
During the 48 hours without screens, I missed:
Whether it's an entire weekend, during my commute to/from work, or in the evening when I'm home with Scott, I do plan on setting aside time to purposefully avoid screens. Perhaps I'll even participate in Screen-Free week.
Related: 40x40 List
Date completed: Sunday, December 13, 2015
Similar to the motivation behind the other bike-related 40x40, I included trying a spin class to push me out of my fitness comfort zone. My guide for this activity was my friend Anne Knauff whom I first met when I volunteered for Open Streets Mpls in 2011. Anne is extremely active both in terms of fitness (especially cycling) but also in her community both qualities I hope to foster in myself. She and I have been meeting monthly for walks and I'm glad we've found a way to switch things up by going to this class.
Anne and I chose the 10 AM Power Ride class taught by Joe Ede at the Midtown YWCA:
POWER RIDE Intensity level 2: The effort generated by a cyclist in a specific amount of time is known as “power” and tracking power measurements is a valuable training tool. Speed, intensity and resistance are the areas of focus in this class. All levels.
When I asked Anne what I needed for class she mentioned that I should bring a towel. I initially brushed it off because I don't typically sweat that much. Boy am I glad that I listed to her! I glowing sweet sweet sweat minutes after our warm-up. It felt great! Joe Ede is a fantastic instructor. He gives clear instructions and provides motivation throughout the class. His music is well chosen for the intervals and he uses parts of songs to trick you into working harder. Though I was motivated from start to finish to work hard, Joe also makes it comfortable to do what's best for you.
It turns out that I have been following Joe on Twitter and it took Anne telling me a bit about him before I realized it. I'm thankful for the connection and I've liked his Facebook group Cycling with Joe in hopes of joining one of his group rides in the future.
Though my bum was a bit sore after the class, I'm so glad I went. In fact, I plan on going back for more! Anne has graciously offered to let me join her for future YWCA Power Ride dates.
Related: 40x40 List
Date completed: Saturday, December 12, 2015
In our early days of dating, Scott and I went to the Brave New Workshop (BNW) quite a bit at their former theater location (2605 Hennepin Avenue, Minnneapolis). To rekindle our relationship with BNW, I included a trip to their new theater at 824 Hennepin Avenue on the 40x40 list.
Though it was more out of procrastination than an intentional decision, I'm glad we waited for the holiday show--the website description of of annual event speaks to me:
The Brave New Workshop's holiday show is a cherished annual event for those most likely to wind up on the 'naughty' list.
This year's show, The Trump Who Stole Christmas was a great way to continue the irreverent holiday celebrations that we kicked-off the previous week at The New Standards Holiday Show. If you're going to be in the Twin Cities between now and January 30, you should go buy tickets to The Trump Who Stole Christmas. If you won't be going, read this Star Tribune review by Rohan Preston which is a better recap than I'd be able to write.
The BNW cast and crew are extremely talented and somehow manage to make time to engage with their audience on Twitter. A few of them liked my tweet documenting the moment when a woman in the crowd got excited by the mere mention of a country-themed restaurant. Perhaps that's her way of grieving the closure of the St. Louis Park location?
As is the case with many of my 40x40s, I definitely want to boost our support of BNW. At a minimum I'd like to go to the holiday show but hope to catch shows throughout the year.
Related: 40x40 List
Date completed: Thursday, December 10, 2015
Celebrating their 150th birthday this year, Faribault Woolen Mills is one of the great comeback stories in American manufacturing. After inheriting a vintage Pak-A-Robe by Faribo blanket from my Grandma Mary, I wanted to learn more about the company. Less than an hour away, I knew that Faribault would be a fun getaway to take advantage of their weekly tours on Thursdays.
My friend Lisa was up for the adventure and we arrived in Faribault around 10:30 a.m. which gave us plenty of time to explore the grounds around the mill which sit next to the Cannon River Reservoir. Before the tour we both purchased some goods from the retail store.
The tour impressed upon me the work that goes into making wool blankets, throws, and scarves. It takes 22 steps to get from bales of raw wool to a finished product. All in a relatively small (loud) space. We saw people tending to the spinning machine, inspecting the quality of the weave, and inventorying with laptops. Our tour guide pointed out both vintage and new machinery used during the process as well as the time it takes to set up for a new project (four working days!). This is all to say that the price of a Faribault Woolen Mill product seems more than fair after going on the tour.
Both Lisa and I would like our own private tour where we learn more about the people who work at the factory. We were there the day that Mary celebrated her 80th birthday and she's worked at Faribault Woolen Mills for 61 years. Can you imagine? We passed an office while someone was being interviewed and we were told that when hired those positions will bring the employee count to 100.
After our tour, we went to downtown Faribault for lunch at The Cheese Cave followed by a dessert drink at Bluebird Cakery (too full for one of their delicious looking cupcakes, cookies, or other pastries). It was raining while we were there which is a bummer because their downtown is so cute and I would have liked to have checked out their other businesses. Faribault is definitely worth a road trip or a detour off I-35 for a pit-stop.
Related: 40x40 List
Date completed: Friday, November 20, 2015
As I near the completion of my 40x40, I'm realizing it is fair to draw some conclusions about me from the list I've created. I hope one discerns that I value art. I am fortunate that I now have the means to support my values and as much as possible, I'd like to put my money where my mouth is and buy works from local artists.
MCAD Art Sale
This year, that meant buying three pieces of original art from the MCAD Art Sale. Attending the sale is a tradition for many Minnesotans and is becoming one for my friend Lisa and me.
I purchased these three pieces of art:
The MCAD Art Sale makes for a great friend date night. Lisa and I have a similar pace for browsing, encourage each other to buy art that catches our eye, and both take on notice and comment on the human art wandering around us (aka people watching). Afterward, we went to Nightingale for a late dinner.
Local Artists I Love
As I visit galleries, coffee shops, my doctor's office, and other places where local art is exhibited or attend local art events, I'm starting to compile a list of artists I love. I hope to one day display their talents in my home.
November 2015 highlights
November by the numbers
The Nivens Family