Bookworm: October 2015

"I see myself holding a pair of thick, woolen socks." Harry stared. "One can never have enough socks," said Dumbledore. "Another Christmas has come and gone and I didn't get a pair. People will insist on giving me books." -Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone


The Taming of the Queen, Philippa Gregory: I'm a shameless Philippa Gregory fangirl because I absolutely love Tudor and Plantagenet history and she's an incredibly interesting fiction writer. Her newest offering, centered around the life of Henry VIII's last wife Katherine Parr, synthesized sex, politics, and religion in the most fascinating way. Totally unreliable from a historical perspective, but such a fun read. 

Four Seasons in Rome: On Twins, Insomnia, and the Biggest Funeral in the History of the World, Anthony Doerr: A writer and his wife and their newborn twins receive a grant to spend a year in Rome. His musings and recollections and sweet family stories meld into a beautiful depiction of a city I have such fond memories of. A must read for anyone who's visited or loves Rome. 

American Wife, Curtis Sittenfeld: This has been on my "to-read" list for years. Based more than loosely on the life of Laura Bush (a First Lady I am not-so-secretly obsessed with), it depicts the rise and life of an unlikely president and his reluctantly political wife. Again, it takes insane liberties with the aspects of "Alice's" life that aren't public record, but the writing is beautiful and the book was a can't-put-it-down treat. 

All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr: Oh my god. If you haven't read this, and if you have even the remotest interest in World War II/the Holocaust/Nazi Germany/northern France/Paris/science/blindness/nature/ALL things wonderful and good, read this. It's unbelievably good. I devoured it at the airport/en route to Toronto and will be recommending it to everyone in the world now. 


The Last Anniversary, Lianne Moriarty: A cute, charming, light read from an author my mom discovered. We've fallen in love with her books...always a bit twisted, with super funny and multidimensional characters and out-there plots. This one didn't disappoint...a perfect airplane read. 


Nothing this month! Everything was really good! Always fun when that happens. 


Oh my god, I re-read all the Harry Potters in like...four or five days. Claire got me started on it when we went to South Bend for Zach and Colleen's wedding, and I couldn't stop. I ended up finishing the seventh one in the Chipotle by my office, crying shamelessly in the corner booth. I forgot how much I absolutely adore the books...a totally life-defining series that I'll always revisit with so much love. 

Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone, J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, J.K. Rowling

Zach and Clake Cut the Cake!

I have been trying to put this post together for WEEKS now, and haven’t been able to…too many photos to pare down and too much fun to try to cram into one blog post! The first weekend of October, our entire Minneapolis friend group made a pilgrimage down to South Bend to witness the marriage of two of my favorite people, Zach and Colleen!

I gushed about how excited I was on the day we got on the road…but nothing could have captured how amazing the weekend was. Z & C threw one of my absolute favorite weddings I’ve ever been to. The entire weekend felt like the perfect encapsulation of everything they’re about… fun, some party action, lots of Notre Dame, and most significantly a ton of love. These two are so in love with each other, but more importantly, they are absolutely adored by everyone in their lives. It was amazing to see that, and to feel how huge and meaningful the presence of that love was all weekend. Unbelievably meaningful and heartfelt across the board.

We arrived around dinner on Thursday night and spent the entire night reliving a classic Thursday night at Notre Dame, starting off with a dinner at Legends (that we didn’t pay for with Domer Dollars!)…

…followed by a trip to O’Rourkes, which will always and forever be Kildare’s in my mind. We enjoyed some beers, bonded with our waitress, and sent our night on a sharp turn for crazy with a few rounds of “breakfast shots,” a concoction of Jameson and buttershots with an OJ chaser that tastes exactly like pancakes and deliciousness.

From there, we headed to the cabin!! It was so fantastic to get to spend some time with Zach and his family in a lower-key setting…our small group enjoyed cocktails and catching up before the night took its second sharp turn for crazy. Riley, Zach’s younger brother, decided we were all going to Club Fever. 

ND grads know that Club Fever is utterly ridiculous. For Minneapolis friends, it’s sort of like The Library but sleazier…almost a Sneaky Pete’s type environment. I DIED with excitement and then felt incredibly old as we all gawked at the babies in their six-inch heels.

We assuaged our old-fogey hurt feelings with a few selfies, and a few Redheaded Sluts…


…and headed to Steak’n’Shake around 2am in a desperate bid to sober up. Too much fun, and it was only Thursday!

Friday was the kind of day that makes Notre Dame look insanely beautiful and makes Notre Dame lovers glad to be alive. 

We took a long tour of campus with friends Chris and Jodi, ate lunch in the dining hall, and made an all-important Grotto trip for a few moments of silence and reflection. I had a blissful afternoon to myself and spent some time wandering campus solo, which I completely cherished, before meeting up with friends Brett and Bekka for dinner. We then headed over to the rehearsal dinner afterparty back at the cabin! 

Lots of photos of high school classmates…

Old roommates…

…and “book club” veterans…

…and a selfie in the bathroom for good measure because I adore this girl. 

One of the highlights of my weekend was getting to watch non-Notre Dame friends experience my alma mater. It was jarring but gratifying in the best of ways to watch these worlds collide, and we had so much fun with it. As far as the “after party” goes, Zach’s parents’ friends totally outlasted us…we threw in the towel around midnight when they were still going strong! I can only hope I grow up to be that cool. 

Saturday dawned really cold and a bit grey, but we decided to brighten our day with BACKER LUNCH! …until we realized Claire didn’t have her ID, so we ditched and had a one-on-one date at Wendy’s hahaha. Then it was a mad rush to get ready and make it to the church on time for the event of the weekend!! 

I can’t even put into words how beautiful a Basilica wedding is, and Zach and Colleen’s lived up to all my previous experiences. Colleen could not have been a more absolutely stunning bride. Watching her walk down the aisle on the arms of her mother and uncle brought me to tears almost immediately. 

I always love to snag just one photo of the vows…although I never try to take a picture of the kiss, because usually I’m doing dorky little hops of joy as it happens. 

MARRIED! These beautiful people! I love them so much! 

The reception was at the hotel we were all staying at, so we headed back and killed a little time in the Catholic gap with champagne in Greg and Alex and Laura’s ridiculously large “executive suite.” We’re talking full boardroom, sitting room, and giant bedroom. It was bigger than my apartment. Cocktail hour was fantastic! The appetizers were mind-blowing. Crab cake tots?! Yes please. Plus I got to hang out and be the “plus three” to THESE lovelies. 

The facility was already a gorgeous raw space, and Zach and Colleen’s personal touches added so much to the evening. Their guestbook was a personalized map (I signed over most of Central Africa, because I’m a huge dork). 

I also loved the beautiful navy linens, which, combined with the gold chair covers, made the entire room perfectly Notre Dame-y. The centerpieces were all different…so fun to check them all out! 

Every toast was absolutely perfect. Colleen’s sister and mother gave the most incredible testimonies to how amazing Colleen is…I didn’t think it was possible to capture her, but of course as the two women who love her most in the world, they pulled it off. We all cried. Bobby, Zach’s best man, told a story I know well about freshman year at Glee Club House and a certain trophy…which brought the room to tears of laughter…and brought it full circle in the best way, bringing us to more tears of joy.

Each of the first dances ended up being “special:” Zach and Colleen’s first dance was to “Your Song,” by Ellie Goulding, and involved some fantastic dips and twirls and whatnot in the middle, but watching them made me tear up (common theme for the evening). 

While Colleen was having her uncle-niece dance, Zach grabbed her mom and brought her out to the dance floor as well. So touching.

Before Zach and his mom’s dance, his dad (I think) explained the significance of the song they were dancing to. Zach lost his granddad, a music teacher and jazz aficionado, a few months before the wedding, and they would dance to his favorite recording of his favorite song. I completely lost it (as did, um, EVERYONE else in the room). Such a beautiful tribute! 

This is getting insanely long, so I’m going to power through and wrap it up as concisely as possible. 

Steve-O’s “snapchat glamorshot” of me: Obsessed. I love that dress (steal of a deal from J.Crew Factory)!

Their cake: adorable. Their cupcakes: delicious. 

Our sneaky viewing of the ND-Clemson game: super stealth. Super disappointing game. Whatever, we had an open bar and a ton to celebrate, so I barely noticed or cared. Still, thanks Greg and Rabes for making sure we could watch it (when nothing more important was happening, I promise!). 

The photobooth: utterly ridiculous magic. 

These two: So beautiful, so loving, and so, so loved. Thank you for an unbelievably memorable and heartfelt weekend, Zach and Colleen! We love you a lot! 

Twin Cities Theater Things

My October has been absolutely jam-packed with the point where I can't believe it's already almost over! Weddings, engagement parties, work travel, football, and of course, because it wouldn't be me without it, a lot of awesome theater. 

Minneapolis knocked it out of the park with two separate shows this month that were standing ovation-worthy (at least in my humble, totally-not-a-theater-critic opinion!). My mom and I saw Theater Latte Da's "Sweeney Todd" mid-month at the Ritz Theater, a tiny venue in Northeast. 

Featuring two of my absolute favorite TC actors, Tyler Michaels as Toby and Sally Wingert as Mrs. Lovett, the show was creepy and gothic and twisted in all the right ways. The set looked like an abandoned playground, sirens blared every time Sweeney Todd killed someone, and the vocal talent was beyond compare. I had Tyler Michaels singing "Not While I'm Around" stuck in my head for a week! He's going to go insanely far. Sally Wingert injected exactly the right dose of comedy and was as charming as usual. 

It's garnered rave reviews so far and is playing through November 1--check it out for a perfect Halloween treat! 

Just a few days later my Open Call crew got together for the first show of our 2015-16 season, the Guthrie's "To Kill A Mockingbird!" 

I know I'm a pretty effusive writer, and that I tend to like most plays I see, but there is truly no exaggeration when I say that this was one of the top three productions I've ever seen at the Guthrie (and I'm at 46 or 47 now). The talent of the children in the cast portraying Jem, Scout and Dill blew me away, but it was the quiet power and dignity of Baylen Thomas as Atticus Finch that brought the show to the next level. 

Featuring one of the most clever intermissions (a "court recess") that I've ever seen, the production was tight, focused and fast-paced in all the right ways. I think Hal and I both teared up several times and, by the end, I was out-and-out bawling. What a powerful novel, and what a beautiful treatment by the genius crew at the Guthrie! It started off our Open Call season perfectly. 

As a fun aside, Open Call also hooked us up with the opportunity to take a private backstage tour of the Guthrie, and it was so interesting! The way the set shop is configured to access both the stages and the fact that it's built to accommodate everything being built right on site blew my mind. I loved getting to access the parts of the theater I haven't gotten to see as a patron...especially getting to set foot on BOTH of the stages! Total nerdgasm moment right there: 

Coming up, I'm looking forward to our next Guthrie show, "The Cocoanuts," as well as a few trips to the Minnesota Orchestra and Minnesota Opera and hopefully "A Christmas Carol" this holiday season! 

101 in 1001 #5: Visit a new country.

I'm sitting at my parents' kitchen counter working remotely for the morning before heading to MSP to board a plane...I'm headed off to Canada this afternoon!  Work is sending me to Toronto for the week to run some trainings, administer some policies, and do some review work. My boss and I leave in just a few hours, and I'm actually really looking forward to getting to see this pretty city: 

Wooo!! Canada! I frankly am a little surprised I haven't made it to Canada before this...after all, a lot of people I know think Minnesota is practically Canada, and I have a Canadian aunt and uncle, too. That said, I've never actually crossed the northern border, so I'm looking forward to experiencing the country to the north. 

My knowledge of Canada centers primarily around my dad and brother's fishing trips every summer, the Royal Tour that Kate Middleton and Prince William took after their wedding in 2011, and the Vancouver Olympics (which I was obsessed with). I know next to nothing about Toronto, where we're headed, except that it's incredibly cosmopolitan and international, and supposedly has a great food and social scene. 

Hopefully we'll be able to get out a bit at night and check things out...either way, I'm excited to watch my Minnesota accent get worse, eat some poutine, and seek out any and every Quebecoise I can find to practice my French on. 

I'm sure I'll have fun updates over the course of the week, and there's plenty more to share this week...weddings, theater, a killer surprise party and some more 101 in 1001 to check off! Have a great week--happy Monday, campers!

A note to Papa Bear on his birthday...

It’s my papa bear’s birthday today, and I can’t wait to celebrate with him! My amazing mother has turned into the queen of surprises lately, and she’s got one up her sleeve for this evening for which I’m really excited to get to tag along. Today, though, I started thinking about all the things my father has taught me, and all the times he’s made me laugh, and all the things I wish I could thank him for. And THEN I realized that, um, hello, I have a blog, and can go ahead and do that right here!

Without further ado:

A Note to My Dad on His Birthday

1.       Thanks, Dad, for being 100% right about the fact that black cars are the only way to go. (I’m obsessed with mine. Totally good call on your part.)


2.       I’m sorry that I always use the most data on the family phone plan every month.

3.       One of my all-time favorite memories with you is of sitting on the end of the dock at the cabin, watching the thunderstorm roll over the east side of the lake. You know that. We still talk about it over a decade later. It’ll always be one of the memories I look back on most fondly.

4.       I think my favorite compliments you have ever given me are these two:

a.       In eighth grade, I absolutely chewed out a guy I had a baby crush on because he got on my case for not wanting to go to Perkins at 5am. I was super down and feeling pretty bad about myself, and you gave me the biggest hug and told me you respected that I stuck to my guns…that my stubbornness and obstinacy would serve me well down the line. It has, and I still remember you building me up when I find myself facing down the adult versions of my eighth grade crush.  I don’t even know if you’d remember that, but that’s the best thing about a dad…your words of wisdom stick with your kiddos.

b.      A few months ago I was lamenting the fact that I will probably never truly love a job in my career field, and had gotten pretty negative about the fact that I essentially sold out on passion in the name of stability and solvency. After a decent pep talk, you told me something along the lines of, “It’s so funny because had you told me your freshman year that you were going into accounting/finance, I would have laughed in your face. Now you’re in this field and you’re incredible at it and we’re all sitting here scratching our heads wondering how…” I loved hearing that you think I’m doing well. It’s always nice for a girl to know her daddy is proud of her.

5.       You’re still the only man in the entire world who can make me feel better with a bear hug. It was the only thing I wanted last April when I had my heart broken and it’s still the best thing ever when I find myself grumpy or upset or stressed.

6.       Thank you, thank you, thank you a thousand times over for my education. The further I get from Notre Dame, the more precious the gift seems. I still feel like that three-weeks-in freshman girl calling her daddy from in front of Touchdown Jesus sometimes…the thankfulness transcends everything. I know you like to joke about me crying because I miss the band, or how much I love campus, or all the other silly things you do to make me tear up and giggle…but secretly I know you do it because you’re proud of what you did for me. I will ALWAYS appreciate it more than words can say.

7.       I’ll always think you’re the best cook in the entire world. Even if you “don’t really have a sweet tooth.”

8.       Thank you for being the kind of dad who took the time to read to me, to do “I Spy,” to teach me checkers, chess, and pool, and to ensure we understood the musical significance of Supertramp and Fleetwood Mac from an early age. Pretty sure that your investment of time in us as children is the reason we’re all such cool adults…..or at least that we think we are.

9.       I respect you and your professional and personal integrity and drive more than just about anyone else I know. I think your intelligence and innovation in the business world are remarkable, and the way you survived the recession and went on to thrive is so incredible to me.

10.   As much as we tease you about your insanely loud phone voice, I secretly kind of like it. It's funny and heartwarming to hear you get all happy and shouty on the phone.

We won the paternal lottery with you, Papa Bear. Your dedication to us and love for your family is pretty special. Thanks for continuing to be the best dad ever…happy birthday!!