Things I have learned while building a theater #1

I have learned that applying for a zoning change with the city is not something that anyone should have to figure out on their own, and that I should maybe go into business helping people do it, because it sucks. (Props must go out to Shanna, our City Planner, for dealing with my incessant emails.)

I have learned that painting an open-truss ceiling is a massive pain in the ass, even if you are 120 miles away while it’s being painted.

I have learned that while Dry Fall paint sounds really cool, it’s actually just code for “Hahahahahahaha!!! Now you will find pockets of paint dust in your space for the next ten years!!”

I have learned that most set designs in this town probably, technically, do not conform to fire code and are therefore illegal. (Shhhhh. I won’t tell if you won’t.)

I have learned that there are a whole lot of awesome people who are willing to help us in a lot of different ways.

I have learned that a lot of this process is just luck in timing, and that I owe a huge thanks to the U of M for cleaning out their storage room just when I needed risers.

I have learned that my dog can devour a 1-inch dowel or piece of pine 1x in about three seconds. He is also a huge wimp who is afraid of walking on platforms unless it’s the only way to get around to you.

I have learned that I am not the only person who is really excited about this space, and that is really exciting.

Spicy Coconut Noodle Bowl

First of all, it’s soup. In theory. Tonight’s batch turned out more thick and noodle-y, hence the “bowl” and not “soup.”

Second, this is not a process that includes measured ingredients. That’s the beauty of soup. Throw some shit in a pot and it tastes good. Done.
Stuff you’ll need:
Coconut milk
Rice noodles
Curry paste

What Else I Used Tonight:
Serrano pepper


Put the rice noodles in water to soak. I used half a package, or one “section” or whatever the term is, which is a lot of noodles. Use less if you want more liquid-y soup.

Fry up some chicken thighs. Let cool for a bit, then bone and chop into small bits. I cooked four and put two in the soup.

Heat curry paste in a big pot. Just long enough to brown it and open it up a bit.
How much curry? Good question. Josh makes our paste, and it’s not Minnesotan spicy. It’s actually spicy. I used about three teaspoons. I advise starting conservatively and adding more if you need it.

Add a can or two of coconut milk. And maybe half a can or so of water. Depends on how much soup you want and how thick you want it. I find too much water takes away all the fun of the coconut milk. You know those recipes that suggest you skim the cream off the top before using? Throw those in the trash. The cream is the good stuff. Coconut milk is good for you. If you want less fat make a broth-based soup.


Whisk the milk to make sure the curry is well blended. Taste and adjust if necessary.

Add the mushrooms, peppers, scallions, and cooked chicken. You can use all or none of those, or also add carrots, peppers, etc.

Simmer on low heat until the mushrooms (or carrots or peppers or whatever) are as soft or crunchy as you want them.

Add the noodles. They should still be a bit undercooked, which is fine because they will soak up the coconut milk and get mushy pretty quick. I like to break them up into smaller bits so you don’t have two-foot-long milky noodles whacking you in the face while you eat.

Simmer for a bit longer. When it seems like it’s done, it is.

Put it in a bowl and eat it.


Sweet Potato Soup with Mushrooms and Beet Greens

becoming soup

I love how easy soup is:
Put some stuff in a pot. Boil until soft. Blend. Serve.

For tonight:
Two sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced into chunks
One carrot, peeled and sliced
Some leek
About an inch of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
Chicken stock, enough to cover what’s in the pot.

Top with creme fraiche. Yum.

In the background: newly arrived Vincent Arroyo.

We also had a bunch of beet greens left over from my beet gratin at Christmas.  You can treat beet greens just like chard, so I wilted them, then sauteed with a bunch of sliced mushrooms, garlic, and chili flakes.

So pretty in the pan



Bonus Kubla Photo. That's his "What'chu talkin' 'bout, Willis?" face.

Open for Business

Thanks to everyone who came by yesterday.  It’s fun to keep hitting “refresh” on my dashboard and watch the page hits go up.  Oh, the things you spend time on when unemployed!


Some of you may have read yesterday’s post and thought, “Ok, Liz is over 30 and making jokes about hiking.  But what can she actually DO?”  So I thought I’d share the type of things I would be happy to get paid to do.  My perfect world scenario includes working for myself, so for now I’m focusing on freelance and contract work.


Things Liz Can Do:

Plan your event – fundraiser, party, concert, opening, wedding, etc.  I am good at logistics, details, and keeping it all in order.  I am good at handling deadlines.  Depending on the type of event, I have knowledge of staging and audio-visual systems and equipment, and know who to rent from and who to hire.


Manage your project – I used to be a stage manager, so I know how to balance all aspects of a project and make sure everyone involved knows what is going on.  I am comfortable working with all levels of staff, and with media communications, politicians, and other big-wigs.  I can handle your budget, your personnel, your time line, and your needs to make sure the project is finished to your satisfaction.


Write your grant or raise your funds – To be honest, development isn’t what I want to do all the time, but I have written successful grants and fund raising letters, so I can help you with yours.  I am happy to pass on writing samples if the above statement wasn’t enough of a ringing endorsement of my talent and commitment.


Write, shoot, edit, or produce your video – I am not a filmmaker or an aspiring film director.  I do know how to use several different kinds of camera, how to set up lighting, how to run your shoot, and I can edit it all when we’re done.  I know Final Cut Pro, Logic, Soundtrack Pro, LiveType, and Camtasia.  I have access to Avid and am willing to learn if necessary.


Run your theater company – I’ve run mine for almost ten years.  We’re opening a new space.  I am learning how to do that as we go.  But I have a lot of other knowledge gained from my years of running my organization, and I am happy to advise or consult as necessary on yours.


Lots of things! – I may not have listed every possibility here, but I am smart and I think well on my feet.  I am open to new experiences and I learn quickly.  Let me know if you hear of something that might be a good fit!

Finding new paths after 30

Apologies, this post has no photos of puppies.

Giving credit where credit’s due – My mother thinks I should expand this blog, and keep the stuff about dogs, keep doing more food, but also talk about other things like theater, lifestyle, and…finding new paths after 30.

I will be honest, my first thought was “Are you kidding? How cheesy! Who wants to read that?”

But, as always, in some way or another, mom is right.

I am not interested in making this blog some sort of inspirational-find-your-true-calling-I-hope-Oprah-discovers-me thing. But I do think there’s value in talking about my current situation to a bigger audience than my husband, best friend, and dog. (The cats don’t listen. I try, but they just walk away.) Maybe this will help me actually find work. Maybe it will be self-indulgent and my two-dozen readers will ignore any post that isn’t titled “This post has dog pictures in it!” Maybe it will be interesting to talk about where I am, and find out who else is there and what people think.

The truth is that I have no idea what I’m doing or what I should do. I got laid off from a job that I wasn’t particularly excited about anyway, but it was employment and now I don’t have that. I can tell you a whole lot of things that I know I don’t want to do, but I’m not so sure about the things I do want to do. The thought of writing cover letters scares me to death. I’ve never had to market myself to potential employers – I got my gigs at Jeune Lune and the Fringe straight out of college, that naturally built into the AV freelancing I did for a while, and when I left the bookstore I went straight into something that was basically made up for me. Some of my most tangible skills are things I’ve gained from nimbus, not from any employer.

So here I am. Over 30. Trying to find a new path. And trying not to be too cheesy in the process.

And so, dear readers, I will keep you posted on my various thoughts and frustrations of my path-finding expedition. Please let me know your thoughts, or observations on your own experiences.

And don’t worry, there still will be plenty of Kubla photos to distract us along the way.

How to make the cabin even better

In the past few days, there were a lot of photos taken at that little house on a frozen lake, and I’m sure that some of them will wend their way onto the interwebs, but I felt the need to share the only pictures I made right away.

It’s very important, you see, because they are pictures of…


  • Because the more dogs there are, the better that place is.