2014: A Review

Welcome to 2015 and happy New Year!

I was planning on posting a piece about my high school, St. Cloud Tech, but I’m not quite finished with it yet and so I’ll share that with you in February. The School Board has decided to build a new school, opting to relocate from the 1917 building where I attended high school from 2001 to 2005. I am disappointed by this decision and I’d like to share my thoughts on why as well as what can still be done to keep the school right where it is, so stay tuned!

In the meantime, since January 1st happens to not only be the first Thursday of January, but also the first Thursday of 2015 – I thought it might be appropriate to share some of my highlights from the past year.

A year of celebrations and accomplishments

DegreeIn January I traveled to Boston for the last “intensive week” of my graduate program. Once I returned it was full speed ahead towards completing my Master’s Thesis and graduation. There was no better way to celebrate this accomplishment than to travel back to Boston and walk in the commencement ceremony. My parents, brother and cousin came along for the ride and we had a great time exploring a city. If you’ve never been to Boston, I insist you add it to your “must-see” places.

After graduation, as I searched for my next big challenge, I turned back to this blog. I wasn’t sure if it was ever going to be a success or if people would read or care what I had to say, but I thought it was worth a shot. So far, the feedback has been very positive and I’ve been encouraged to continue with it – so a special “thank you” to those of you who have been reading!

Graduation

The expeditions and adventures

2014 was another year of great adventures for me – both throughout Minnesota and to other states. I traveled to Boston, twice! I have gone to Boston for a week every year for the past three years – I might have to make a quick trip in 2015 to keep the tradition going! My friends moved to Portland, OR in the spring and I took it as an opportunity to visit a new place in August. Perhaps Portland is not on your list of places to visit – but it should be, just read my post for some my highlights. A friend and I took a little trip to Chicago in June to see one of our favorite bands perform. It was a highlight of the summer, aside from the ridiculous rain storm that moved in right before the concert.

Soo Line BuildingIn 2013 I began managing the “Happy Hour with a Preservationist” events for Preserve Minneapolis and we had another great year in 2014! In January we visited the Scottish Rite Temple, which turned out be quite the event. Our tour guide forgot about the tour initially and the building was locked – so the group of attendees and I spent a lovely January afternoon becoming acquainted on the sidewalk. Once we were granted access and the guide met up with us we learned about the history of the building as well as had a peak into the interworking of the Scottish Rite – it was definitely a tour I’d like to do again in the future.

Scottish Rite TempleWomen's Club

In March the Women’s Club of Minneapolis was kind enough to take us on a tour of their building, which includes a library, theater and many areas for the club members to socialize. The Soo Line Building was our destination in May, where we had a chance to get a behind-the-scenes look at the renovation of the building into Soo Line City Apartments and ended the tour with a social hour on their top floor community room and patio. For July, Preserve Minneapolis Board President, Liz Gales, had the great idea of setting up a tour of some of the lesser known landmarks around the University of Minnesota campus and in happy hour fashion; we ended with a social hour at the Kitty Cat Klub. The “Happy Hour with a PreservationistLynLake Breweryevents of 2014 ended with a tour in November of the newly opened LynLake Brewery. A renovated theater is now the home to a trendy craft brewery near the intersection of Lake Street South and Lyndale Avenue South. The owner and head-brewer gave us a special look at the renovation of the building and the operation of the brewery. I’m looking forward to more great events in 2015 and we’re kicking it off with a January tour of the under-construction renovation of Pillsbury A Mill into the artist lofts, A-Mill Artists Lofts.

U of M Tour

My year in music

This year I became more aquatinted with the local music scene, and I’m so glad I did! I had this idea of turning to Facebook for ideas in creating a Minnesota Artists playlist on Spotify and oh my the response I received! So many great artists and now the playlist is over 16 hours long! One of my favorite artist discoveries this year is Jeremy Messersmith (clip of his First Ave performance) and after seeing his show this past month at First Avenue, he has become one of my all-time favorites.

I also discovered Lake Street Dive this year. I was first introduced to the band when the Star Tribune did a profile on them, noting the band’s name is derived from our very own Bryant Lake Bowl. I completely fell in love with their music and was so excited to see them live at First Avenue.

Another all-time favorite band of mine is O.A.R. and when I noticed they were going on tour this year but weren’t planning a stop in Minnesota (at the time of announcing their tour dates), my friend Angie and I couldn’t think of a better reason to visit Chicago. After the tickets were purchased and the trip was planned they, of course, added a Minnesota stop as a part of Cities 97’s Oake on the Water concert series. Angie and I decided we’d check that out too, since it just happened to be the week after we returned from Chicago. Not long after making that decision, O.A.R. added yet another tour date for Minnesota as part of the Skyline Music Festival. Well, we both thought that twice would be enough in once summer and decided not to purchase tickets to that event. However, fate had other plans and a co-worker of mine handed me tickets to the event the week before! So, Angie and I were able to see one of our favorite bands one more time before the summer ended – and every single time it was awesome.

Probably my favorite concert this year was the Black Keys at the Target Center. I’ve seen this band twice before and I’m convinced they are one of the best bands to see live. Adding to the reasons this was one of my favorite events of 2014, the tickets were a gift from my big brother for graduation, so that made this concert all that more special!

If you live in Minnesota you are probably well aware of the proliferation of summer festivals around the state – it is one of my favorite parts of summer! This year these festivals and musical acts were on my list:

Farewell to loved ones, and hello to a new opportunity

Grandmas

As I’m reflecting on the year, the most impactful life-events have happened over the last couple months. Both of my grandmother’s passed away in November. It is always difficult to lose a loved one, much less two within a week. Not long after we said our final goodbyes to my Grandma Bev and just two days before the memorial for my Grandma McKenzie, I received a call to interview for a position that I thought had already been filled and therefore resolved that I would not be receiving a response to my application. Right after I got off the phone I thought to myself, ‘this is it – this is my next step and a sign from my both of my grandmas to keep pushing ahead’. Long story short, I accepted an offer and started this week as the Community Fix-Up Program Manager at Minnesota Housing Finance Agency. Closing the chapter on Minnesota Bank & Trust and my career as a Mortgage Loan Processor is bittersweet – I’ve learned so much and have had so many great opportunities, but I can honestly say I’m ready for my next challenge.

Thank you, again, for checking out my posts and for following along in my adventures. I look forward to sharing more with you in 2015!

Until next time…

Claire

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