Monday, December 21, 2009

That's All Folks

Many of you know that this fall I chose to take on just a little too much in regards to my schedule. Not only did I make it into the National Lutheran Choir, I had the joy and privilege of auditioning for and making it into the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra Choral conducted by Dale Warland. Both of those choirs have had a huge impact on me but it was really the full-time school work and four additional part-time jobs that thrust me into stress level 10. This last Friday I sent in my last exam for the semester. Saturday I flew to St. Louis for the NLC's last Christmas Concert for the Fall. On Sunday my church choir was amazing and added to a beautiful song service at St. Peder's. And today...


Sure, Christmas services are around the corner but my choirs know the music and I am ready to conduct them. I have no books to read (accept the bible), I have no papers to write, I have no music to learn (at this moment) and most of all, I don't HAVE to do anything.

Of course I am going to go tune some pianos, finish a sound system bid for a church and drop off some equipment from the trip. But that's stuff I LOVE to do so who's complaining. I'll leave you with some pictures from the Trip.

Beechcraft King Air 350 (amazing!)
The inside.
Welcome to the St. Louis.
The amazing alter at Christ Church Cathedral

70 Rank 1965 Aeolian-Skinner

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! Enjoy the break.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


My mom stuck me on a Ski Bus when I was in junior high. I remember packing a duffle bag with extra layers that I would start to throw on as the bus got close to Mt. Hood Meadows. We usually left the rainy 40 degree valley and climbed up into the cascades so you would roast if you wore all your gear on the bus. Instead, as we watched the trees fill with snow the excitement on the bus would build and everybody would scamper to get bundled up.

I will always remember that moment when you climb off the bus into the cold crisp air. The crunch of the snow under your feet and the winter wonderland waiting on the other side of the lodge. I would always take a real deep breath and fill my lungs with the fresh mountain air.

The return of winter and the snow outside in Minnesota for me is a return to the mountain. It's 3 degrees outside with piles of snow everywhere you look. I probably will not be happy to see those same piles in April but right now, sitting in the warm apartment protecting me from the winter wonderland outside but knowing I can cool off at a moments notice makes me happy. I don't think it's that I like being cold. Just like Oregonians don't like being wet but we love the rain. Braving the elements between the apartment and the Seminary is simply refreshing and wonderful.

The crunch of snow, the bitter cold wind bitting at your exposed face and the silence that permeates the air. It's a welcomed and drastic contrast to the 110 degrees this summer in Corvallis. Now if only there was a mountain to ski down I'd be in heaven.


Sunday, November 29, 2009

Culinary Conundrum

I think it's safe to assume that all our loyal readers have, at one time or another, shopped for a gift from a wedding registry. And, in reviewing the selections on all those registries, have you ever seen one without a KitchenAid stand mixer? Me neither. In fact, I really think it should be added to the standard "So, you're getting married?" line of questioning:
"So, you're getting married?"
"And when is the big day?"
"And where are you having it?"
"Have you found THE dress?"
"And for what color KitchenAid will you register?"

And therein lies the source of our current culinary conundrum. The age-old question: what color will your KitchenAid be? What could possibly be more definitive of our lives together? Okay fine. Wedding vows, and then the color of our KitchenAid. But it's still right up there! These suckers last forever, so you have to LOVE the color you buy, and you have to promise yourself that you will still love it in 30 years.

So we find ourselves in a quandry. What color mixer will enter into this lifetime partnership with us? Though I am almost always the first to default for something colorful over something plain, I initially answered this question in the most practical way possible:
White. It's classic. It goes with everything. It will disappear into any kitchen decor we ever dream up. And you just can't get sick of white. White was the practical choice. I even talked SoundGuy into it long enough to zap it with the scanner at Target.

But the more I think about it, the less enthusiastic I've become about boring old white. (And, in fairness, SoundGuy has been against it all along). Why would we choose white when these things come in the most delicious colors? I'd hate to mosey out to the kitchen for my morning coffee only to be confronted with the fact that, when given the opportunity to be interesting, I chose to be boring. ACK! Thirty years with a boring mixer? Perish the thought! I'd sooner beat my cake mixes by hand. *swoon*

So we've entered into the delicate process of discerning what color suits us best. It's created some pretty interesting conversations with our married pals, and I think it's safe to say that there is a story (and an act of compromise) behind everyone's mixer. It's been a hot topic among my grad school friends lately as Nikki & Henry made the big purchase (Blue Willow) - to the point that the girls' KitchenAid colors have become their handles. Example: "Dear Blue Willow, Granite here! Just checking in to see if you have heard from Pistachio about Erik's job offer..."
You can see why it's super-important for us to get this figured out. I'm still "Nicole" in these emails. That's almost as boring as being the girl who chose the white mixer.

Loyal readers, we need your help! We've narrowed the pool to four colors, but we're stuck at an impass and can't make up our minds.

SoundGuy has weighed in as an advocate for Granite:
The more this thing starts to resemble a power-tool, the more he likes it. If we choose Granite, I'm pretty sure my husband will grunt at it every time he walks through the kitchen. It already happens when we pass a lifted 4x4 on the hiway, but that's a story for another time.

We both like the Empire Red:
It's so classic! And red is my most favorite color. Our current microwave happens to be red, and the coffee pot we have on our registry is a little bit red as well, so there's a "matchy-matchy" arguement to be made for the red.

And then there's Cobalt:
Also a classic, yes? It doesn't really go with anything we have, but it's just a nice color. And what's wrong with a nice cobalt mixer jumping out at you from amongst the decor?

And, finally, there's this quirky Ice Blue:
I'm really drawn to it's retro feel and the "I don't match a darn thing" quality that comes along with it. But will I always feel that way? Over the course of 30 years it will go from retro to "so last year" to "they make nice quilted cozies to cover those, ya know" to "remember when I used to bake" to "hip" and back to "charmingly retro" all over again. I don't know if I can endure it.

Weigh in, friends! Cast a vote for your favorite. While you're at it, tell us what color your mixer is and why. Those are usually pretty good stories ;)

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Hump Day

On the off-chance that anyone besides SoundGuy and me is actually watching the little countdown ticker over on the sidebar, I think it's important to point out that today is "Hump Day". Day 183. Half-way through the 365 days the ticker was set for. That means that we're officially half-way through the year. Half-way to SoundGuy's graduation, and half-way to the end of this journey. You know what feels even better? It's really the 75% mark because we are now half-way through year two.

75%. That's a C. That means we're passing! Now if there is just a curve at the end of the term...

Some days I'm inclined to look at this whole thing "by the numbers." In a way verging on the all-too-familiar MasterCard commercials.
Number of plane tickets purchased...
Number of minutes spent on the phone...
Number of highway miles logged...
Number of emails exchanged...
Number of tears of frustration shed...
Number of elated greetings and hard goodbyes...
Number of lines Instant Messaged...
Number of frequent flyer miles accumulated...

And then 182 doesn't seem like a very big number at all.

Yes, there are still 182 days to get through. 182 more phone calls instead of face-to-face. 182 more days till this blog starts being about something besides the adventures of long-distance love. But when you compare it to the 730 we started with, 182 is nothin! We've got this thing in the bag.

Hello, homestretch. We're happy to see you.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


A trip to the MOA (Mall of America) anytime is an adventure. Today, as ChoirPres already pointed out, I decided to actually go for a reason. PW ( was signing books and well, I just couldn't miss the opportunity to get out of the apartment and venture to the land of crazy shoppers and bloggies.
There is one thing that is for sure, PW has a huge following and EVERYBODY is nice. There must have been a baby with 1 of every 5 people in line but it wasn't a mad house. No crying, no fussy annoying babies, even older kids were behaving.

This little guy was with us most of the way. The worst he got was trying to run through the crowd. Mom later passed him off to g-ma and when he returned he simply pooped out in the stroller. About that time I was thinking how nice it would be to grab a nap myself!

The line was so long that I started right up at the front only to slowly wind and twist my way to the back and ultimately up to the front again. PW came on stage with a full entourage of camera crews and photographers. One photographer actually fell off the stage! I found it odd though because I noticed that the camera guys were following the Security Guards around more than they were Ree.

Of course Marlboro Man made his appearance with the boys. He was mobbed and I saw a good number of middle age woman swoon.
By the time they arrived I was literally standing behind the stage and the boys walked right up to me, worn out cowboy boots and all. They put on a good show fighting in front of everybody. Brothers, what do you expect?
Of course Marlboro Man snagged PW's camera and took pictures of everyone taking pictures of him. Quite amusing.
They ultimately ended up around the corner signing at their own table. The boys were quite tired by the time we got around to them.

Marlboro Man of course was signing pictures of himself...including pictures of his own butt. I think we have done it...the full turn around and now we have the objectification of men. Sigh, he didn't seem to mind. I did have the joy of meeting Mike and Mary Mraz. Mary is and had a huge boost from PW a while back and how is selling her pans all over the country! Great people and Mike of course picked my brain about seminary and all that jazz. I really enjoyed meeting them and especially enjoyed the Caribou Mocha Mike bought me.

There were some cute babies surrounding us and of course I had to snag some pictures. Where is my old 35mm when I need it! Should have thought about that.

Seriously, look at this guys cheeks and full head of hair. You're making me look bad little man. As we got to the front of the line it came clear what was actually happening with all the cameras. They were not there for Ree, they were actually filming a TLC documentary!
Seriously, Mall Cops: Mall of America? Oh ya, I had to sign a release because I was on camera. Lets see if I get my big debut on TLC in the near future. Stay posted.
The Barns and Noble people were great and took pictures for everybody. She even got a couple action shots of Ree signing the book.
Well there you have it. Thanks Ree for sitting in the MOA for HOURS and HOURS just to sign your name and meet us crazy Minnesotans. You really are an angel and keep us all entertained on a daily basis. If you don't read PW now, you might want to add it to your reader or spend some quality time catching up on her website.


p.s. she is putting out Black Heels as a book soon and the cookbook really does look great!

Look Where SoundGuy Is!

SoundGuy is about to have a brush with fame. Never mind all the brilliant "famous" (well, famous in our twisted weird world) musicians he's been rubbing elbows with, today he hits the big time!

My future husband - the hairy-chested, car-repairing, pseudo-macho love of my life - is currently standing in line at the Mall of America with zillions of other crazed fans to get an autograph from a famous woman. An autograph on a cookbook. This is why I love my SoundGuy. He will always keep you guessing.

So who's the starlet? It's one of our favorite bloggers, The Pioneer Woman. Ree Drummond has just released her cookbook and is touring around doing signings.
Of course she made it to Minnesota just five short days before my visit, and I'm a little bummed to miss it, but I'm getting play-by-plays from the Mall all morning. Including photos of PW's cowboy husband "Marlboro Man" (no, he doesn't smoke - she just calls him that) and two of their kiddos:
So, if you're a Pioneer Woman fan, this might be fun for you. If you're not, then I suggest you add her blog to your list of "things I look at to procrastinate and/or escape from my life." She's good for that.

And now I'm pretty sure I know what I'm getting for Christmas ;)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Happy FIRST Birthday, Miss Addison!

This is a very special day - one of my favorite little girls is celebrating her very first birthday!
One year ago today, my girl Frankel brought Little Miss Addison (AKA: Addi-Bear) into the world. Now she's rocking six teeth (which her Dentist mom gleefully examines) and a vocabulary which includes the word "car." However, it comes out "caw" so I'm convinced she's either a raven or from New Jersey. And just in time for her first birthday she took a few steps this week! Addi is quite a gal and we adore her!

Is it Full Moon?

I receive a lot of email at work - some of it bordering on "strange." Every now and then I get a real humdinger, and I couldn't resist sharing the one I received this morning.

I'm majoring in ***** with an emphasis on *****. I'm thinking
***** College is where I'll end up to finish my four year degree. Beta Carotene from carrots. A French fry is a cooked potato. Potatoes contain starch. Rice is also a good source of starch. Niacin is one of the active ingredients of what we call a turnip, as I've heard. Diets high in
turnip consumption help damaged nerves to heal, I've heard said. Welcome to the fun filled world of Food and Nutrition 201: Dietary Pharmacology; the Chemistry of the Kitchen. Here is where we actually study the biochemistry of foodstuffs we ingest. Here is where we have a deeper understanding of what's been provided to us, and in what combinations these items we eat help us heal from disease. Tobacco is said to be a helping hand to people who suffer from allergies and/or black lung disease. Modern Science has promoted a death row inmate, posthumously, to the level of the current model for all of medicinal thought. I don't think Modern Science passed Botanical Pharmacology! And, if you didn't, perhaps you shouldn't comment so much on tobacco use and it's effects on a healthy lifestyle.

Huh...I'm not even sure what to do with that. I'm tempted to go back to my days as a Psych student and investigate the stream-of-consciousness action...

Any suggestions for my response are welcomed!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Happy Birthday, Nikki!

Birthday greetings are going out to our girl, Nikki, today! Nothin' luckier than a Friday-the-13th birthday, right? We love this gal for all her brassy no-nonsense banter, her affinity for good beer and pizza, and for her brilliant recycled crafts. Check it out - her project made THE COVER of Green Crafts Magazine in August!

Kick up your heels and have a swell day!!! Duluth will never be the same ;)

Monday, November 9, 2009

6 Weeks

I seem to be living my life in 6 week segments. It has become a very strange routine that I have finally become mildly comfortable with, of course in a couple hundred days (see to the right) it will all be over. In the end, I will remember my Luther Seminary Experience by two things:
First, the season and Second, between which two visits of the girl did something happen.

For example: I remember last fall from when I dragged ChoirPres around Cross Lutheran while Joshua and I tried to electrocute ourselves. She was running around with the camera taking pictures like the one on the right. So cute. So cute. I of course was on a 25 foot ladder (thanks for holding it Joshua) installing a new light fixture and had no clue what she was up to until the pictures got downloaded to the computer.

What happens in between those trips gets pretty blurred together with lots of reading and paper writing and singing and conducting. It all is fantastic and if you happen to be in MN this Advent Season, come to Luther Seminary on Dec. 13th at 2:30pm for a great Advent Service conducted by the MSM's of Luther Sem. Midline ad...oh ya. More on that later.

I will forever remember the time between the October and the Thanksgiving visit as the time when this guy decided to show up early in Oregon and break his leg not a quarter mile from my dad's favorite golf course (I am convinced he saw a hot women in the parking lot and was trying to hit on her and turned too quickly). Had he done it in Arizona or Alaska he would have been in some serious trouble.
Luckily firemen like cute puppies (see picture) and the Davidson's know all about springing into action. Of course, had I been
around the fiasco might have been a little less stressful for everyone involved but in the end, 5 screws, a bolt and two of the most amazing angels in the world later (thanks Sandy and Dean) he's back in MT safe and sound only a little worse for the wear. And the cute little puppers you ask? She keeps breaking my heart via blog posts, emails and pictures while leaving what looks like quite a few messes and messed up sleep patterns by those who have jumped in to take care of her. I think ChoirPres enjoyed the walks with Ms. Sugar but the peeing on the floor and the high levels of energy gave her a little pause about wanting a puppy sooner rather than later. That or she'll just wait for my presence so I get to chase the fur children around while she cuddles and loves on them. Needless to say I am anxious to meet Sugar (beyond anxious actually...if she showed up on my door step tomorrow I might be satisfied but really, I want to play with her NOW...toddler temper tantrum ensues...)

A few minutes later I recomposed myself, reminded myself that my apartment is not puppy ready and that I can barely afford food for myself, let alone a growing puppy. Speaking of, this segment of time brought my beautiful parents out to visit. Not only did they bum around with me in MN and check out the things that needed checking out, they heard two of my concerts, paid for a Costco run and hooked me up with some NEW CLOTHES (according to unnamed friends my wardrobe was needed a little attention). Seriously, I have no clue how to thank them properly for being constantly involved and apart of my life. I love you both Mom and Dad...thanks for giving me the world.

Of course this all just leads me back to the fact that I sit here squarely in the middle of this six week segment still. It is about this point the apartment feels really empty, sunsets are just reminders of the fact that the ChoirPres isn't here and all I can do is dive back into the studies hoping that Thanksgiving comes quickly.

This all just makes you appreciate what you have. Earl, thanks for keeping things lively even at long distances...keep sending and posting puppy pictures. Thank you to family and friends who still stay in touch (Matt Hoffman, this is a major hint). Thank you again to my parents and sister for keeping tabs on my fiancée and keeping me sane, fed and clothed. And one big final thank you to ChoirPres for putting up with my crazy dreams. I love you and hope to keep making you proud.

soundguy out

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

iPhone and The Car

My love for the iPhone is pretty simple. Today however I figured out something pretty simple yet also awesome and thought I'd share my find with the introtubes of the world.

First, I am quite proud of my little 2002 Outback Sport (nicknamed "Roo"). For an All-wheel drive I get between 22 and 26 MPG (if I drive nice). It made it through a Minnesota winter without giving me problems and has been an all around great car.

I also installed a Alpine CDA-9887 Deck that gives me ipod control through an iPod cable. With the Scosche Passport Adaptor, the iPhone both connects AND charges through the deck. When on the 3G network I don't hear any interference and can listen to whatever music is currently synced with the iPhone. (Edge network is another issue but seriously, a little noise disturbance to have 16GB of music at your fingertips, I'll deal.)

I plug it in using a Kensington Car Mount so that I can setup the GPS (before I start driving) and easily track the traffic and the route I am taking. Next mode should be "Driving" so you can't receive calls or texts or email removing the temptation to just glance and see who's bugging you.

Today I figured out that if connected and in iPod mode on the Deck, I can open and play Slacker through the deck without having to connect the AUX cable. Playing music through the internet while driving down the road on my own deck is "Rad" in the words of my beautiful Fiancée.

Next thing, augmented reality using the camera so the iPhone gives you information and directions on the fly, through your personal deck, while driving through the city. Ok, that might be a push but admit it, you think it'd be cool too.

Happy Gadgeting! Just remember, don't answer the phone or text while driving and make sure you take off the faceplate whenever you leave the car.


Thursday, October 29, 2009

In Memoriam

Paul Manz passed away yesterday. My wonderful friend Rita Juhl introduced me to him just last spring. Paul was a gifted Organist, Composer and Church Musician who made the Hymn Festival what it is today. His improvisations and introductions to hymns are epic and influence almost all church organists. Now everywhere I look there is something floating around by him or a person remembering the amazing gifts he brought to the world of Church Music. To quote from the MorningStar article:
The esteem and respect with which Paul Manz is regarded can be seen in the many honors he has received. He has twice been named one of the "Ten Most Influential Lutherans." He has served as National Councilor of the American Guild of Organists and is listed as one of the "101 Most Notable Organists of the 20th Century."
Having the chance to meet these men and women who have directly influenced the world of music in their lifetime is an honor. Most of them never intended to leave a mark as they have but instead through love and a drive for excellence they simply did what they believed they were supposed to do. Out of that dedication and love you find the real impact that moves in waves far beyond anyone else's expectations. And when a simple person like myself gets to shake their hand, they are truly interested in who I am. I think that's what make them great. Love and passion for others. Being a fine musician/organist/composer is just a bonus.

Guess the moral here is be good at what you do, but most of all, love the people who find their way into your life. Thank you Paul Manz for your wonderful gifts you have given us and may light shine perpetually upon you. We will remember you in song and heart for generations to come.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Puppies and Surplices

"My Name's Sugar and I'm gonna break your heart."

This dog has managed to capture my heart from 2000 miles away. I may never see her as a puppy but at this point the amount of stories and pictures I have received (even text messages) about this dog pretty much makes me the most jealous dog lover in the world right now. I am currently fighting off the urge to revert to a 5 year old temper tantrum and yell "I WANNA PUPPY!!"

So sorry we have slacked on blogging lately. The 'Pres and I are currently finishing major tasks that have soaked up our lives. I am sure when we get off these mini roller coasters we will have some good quality updates to post.

Being the Episcopalian that I am, I decided to purchase myself a very nice Cassock to wear on Sunday Mornings. My Lutheran congregation finds it quite funny that I wear a "dress" every Sunday. I just have a thing about being vested (and not in a choir robe circa 1970). My mother graciously said she would be willing to make me a Surplice. Being that my small congregation still holds a tension toward anything "high" as they might call it, I really don't want to push the full vesting of the cassock and the surplice on them every Sunday. It just so happened that my parents came to visit me this week (the week spanning Reformation and All-Saints) and what better time to try out my new, hand made, with family lace surplice on Reformation Sunday when the kiddos are getting confirmed!

You might say it is a little much but even Martin Luther said that worship garb, dress or how the church was setup really didn't matter. So while I won't wear my Surplice accept for feast days, I think it's probably the coolest thing I have ever seen, let alone owned. My mom labored for months on this thing long distance getting it perfect, and it is, PERFECT. I guess I always took for granted that my mom was a I realize how amazingly talented she really is. I love the fact that I will probably wear this for the rest of my life and think of her every time I put it on. Thanks Mom.

So, puppies and surplices it is. Hope you are enjoying the Fall where ever you are and if you are in Minnesota, Join us for the National Lutheran Choir All-Saints Performance.

Blessings -


Sunday, October 4, 2009

More Birthday Loves!!

October gets off to a great start - celebrating two of my best girls' birthdays. Today it's my girl Erin.

She puts the class in "class act."
She's one of those sainted individuals who is saving the world's kiddos through music. And now she's even becoming nationally recognized for her creativity! The only thing wrong with my Erin is her geography - she's too far away =(

Big Birthday Smooches, Erin Schmerin! Can't wait to celebrate with you soon!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Happy Birthday, Beth!!!

Birthday greetings are going out to my fabulous friend Beth TODAY!!! I won't tell you how old she is, but she'll be this age "forever" if ya know what I mean ;)

Here's to this swell gal on her special day! I love ya more'n my luggage!!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Wedding Planning

Seeing as I am getting ready for the Bachelor Party, I thought I'd do a little research. I liked this one.

Poor ol' Spot. He's gonna have a headache.


Monday, September 21, 2009

iPhone Restore and Loud Pitched Noises

Hearing the plethora of iPhone Battery issues with the latest 3.1 update and seeing some issues I am having myself I thought I would post a little tech post for those surfers looking for the same info.

1. RESTORE YOUR IPHONE: whenever a new release comes, it is always smart to not just "update" the phone but do a full restore. When it asks you if you want to download and update your iPhone to the newest release, simply download the software only. While it is downloading, make sure you run a backup and get the latest changes you made on the phone. Then Restore! When it is done clearing the phone and restoring it will ask to restore from your backup you just made.

Reasons for doing this. a) Latest update 3.1 proved horrible for battery life (choirpres can vouch). 2) Future updates could have similar problems and really, what tech device doesn't need a clean install now and then. III) You insure you get the proper update installed correctly on the phone.

2. Do you or have you ever had the odd situation where you dial out off the iPhone and instead of getting that nice gentle ring ring ring, you get a Loud High Pitched Noise or screech from the phone. It hurts, and when your headphones in cannot be good for your ears. This happens to me about every 20-30 calls and seems to happen in spurts. Nobody out there is reporting it or I don't know how to describe it. Maybe it's just my phone but I thought I would post and see if any has similar problems.

Thank you for putting up with another boring tech post. Time for coffee.


Monday, September 7, 2009

Rainy Day

Saturday was a rainy day so I decided to stay in and "play." I haven't scrapped too much this summer so I did some catching up.

Finally getting around to using the photos from our June, 2008, trip to Alaska:

There are a few more Alaska pages to come, but I guess I'm going to need another rainy day to get to them.

Last summer's greatest adventure was a trip to Costa Rica for my best friend's wedding.

I also have a big pile of miscellaneous pictures that I want to do something with. I made a little dent in it with these pages.

And that's how I spent my rainy day!