Morel Hunting Crib Sheet

Start looking for morels the first week that temperatures stay above 50 degrees overnight, usually early to mid-May. The morel season in Minnesota only lasts for about two weeks, so don't sleep! Other signs that it's time for a hike:
  • Lilacs blooming 
  • Dandelions begin to go to seed 
  • Oak leaves the size of a squirrel's ear 
Early spring, search on south-facing slopes in fairly open areas. As the season progresses, go deeper into the woods and explore north-facing slopes. You want to find well-drained, sandy soils and dead or dying trees (ideally with bark sloughing off the trunk). Look for these landmarks to identify potential hunting grounds:
  • Dry creek bottoms 
  • Old apple orchards 
  • Ash, aspen, elm & oak trees 
But is it really a morel? Morels are always hollow. "If it's not hollow do not swallow." Morels' heads are always attached to the side. "Head attached, down the hatch!" Oh, and remember you always gotta cook 'em first... a friend's dad just got sick from eating raw morels. Happy hunting!


Lola Memorial

Lola was a good dog. She was our first baby and tolerated our human children with infinite patience. We had many good years together but it was her time to snuffle off this mortal coil on April 1, 2015. Goodnight sweet pup, we miss you.

Jenna says:
After a rough start to life, Lola came to us around age 4. We had 10 wonderful years with her, and we are so glad that our girls were able to spend their early years with such an amazing pet. It will surely take us all some time to adjust to our new normal without her around. Thank you Lola, for being such a sweet, patient & loving dog!

Pins & Needles

I started doing embroidery in a serious way this winter when I cross-stitched a bunch of Christmas gifts (and one fancy deer). That was so fun that I kept on going and stitching things for myself, just for fun. Then soon I had a pile of finished pieces sitting in a drawer.

And so this is all leading up to the announcement that I'm going to try--for the first time in ten years of Craftstravaganza history--to staff my own booth and make a go of selling like a real artist. I've sold stuff at our shows before, sporadically, but always as a small part of Jenna's Scuttlebug booth. And there was the time I had a half table for one day at SpringCon. But this will be separate, with unique new branding, all my own art. I'm excited... and I have a lot of work to do!

I'm hoping some people will buy my stuff, that's one thing. But also this will be a test to see if I've learned anything about being a good exhibitor in the decade I've spent as an event manager. Come see if I succeed, or crash & burn, on Saturday May 9.

Pre-Shopping Craftstravaganza

For years after we first started Craftstravaganza, managing the event took up most of our time. My wife and I would frequently reach the end of the day and realize we never had a chance to shop our own show! That simply would not do.

It's important for us to give back to our artists, and besides, having the chance to browse and buy from artists that we selected was the main reason we created the show to begin with. So now I have a budget of cash in pocket and plan which booths to hit up so I don't miss anything.

Here are some of my anticipated acquisitions for this year's event.

 Original painting, DC Ice
 Woven scarf, Taillon Made
 Upcycled necktie, AENDEE Products
 Mortar and pestle, Fringe & Fettle Ceramics
Nerdy terrarium, Moss Love

EAT IT, 2015

I don't make resolutions, but I do make plans, and my favorite thing to plan is what I'm going to eat. Here is a list of some foods and beverages that I haven't eaten in a while, or ever. I'm going to make an effort this year to eat/drink them all.

I listed also the most likely sources where I can find a good example of these treats. If you have a better recommendation then by all means clue me in!
  1. Affogato (Crema Cafe)
  2. Cronut (Angel Food Bakery & Coffee Bar)
  3. Crepe (La Belle Crepe)
  4. Takoyaki (Zen Box)
  5. Okonomiyaki (Moto-i)
  6. Korokke (Japanese-style Croquette) (Sakura special menu)
  7. Udon (Tanpopo)
  8. Fish & Chips (Anchor)
  9. Morels (the forest)
  10. Genever (Amsterdam Bar & Hall)
  11. Absinthe (Meritage)
  12. Caipirinha (Fogo de Chão)

Predictions for 2015

I don't set resolutions, but it's fun to make predictions about what the year holds in store and review them a year later. Sometimes they're hilariously off base, rarely they're accurate, always they tell a little story about the general direction of my life. Here's what I'm looking forward to in 2015!

Events will happen
It's my first full year as a full-time event manager, so the one thing I know for sure is I'm going to be managing a lot of events. I'm running the Food & Wine Experience for the first time in March (I volunteered there last year), and the 10th Annual St. Paul Craftstravaganza in May!

Children keep growing up
The milestone in 2014 was Natalie starting first grade, a full day of school, every day of the week. She rides the bus and brings back homework and everything. It's a little surreal and sad but she enjoys it and I'm proud. This year Paisley will actually be in preschool, which is crazy weird.

Personal projects
I advocated following your passion in 2013, I did it in 2014, and I'll be working to learn and improve in 2015. Aside from my day job and our craft fairs, Weekly Planner podcast is my main project. As always I want to keep on making art; I'm super into embroidery right now so we'll see if that sticks.

2014 Wrap-Up

Ah, my poor neglected blog! I have mostly migrated over to other social channels for regular updates. But I have returned for the Dad by Dawn tradition of an annual summary, a sort of digital family newsletter for my internet friends.

So what's new? The major change for me this year was a job shift; after nearly 7 years at the same company, I left to pursue a career in event planning. Starting a podcast about local events was a logical extension of that move and hands-down my biggest project in 2014. And of course Jenna and I celebrated our ten-year wedding anniversary. Let's break it down:

Events Ahoy
2014 in a nutshell was the year I turned my passion for event management into a full-time gig at Greenspring Media. If you count the Food & Wine Experience, where I worked three days as a volunteer, I did a total of nine events this year. Which is the total number of Craftstravaganzas we've produced in as many years. Pretty crazy! So far, I'm loving it.

Business School Dropout
I'm not a businessman, I'm a business, man. I don't need an MBA to do what I'm doing or what I'm planning to do in the future. Besides that, my employer isn't footing the bill any more, which changes the equation. I've been successfully running my own business for coming up on a decade now, and I felt like my time and money could be better spent elsewhere, so I kind of unceremoniously dropped out by just stopping going. Which leads us to the...

Weekly Planner Podcast
A year ago I started doing two things: talking with other event planners and being on podcasts. I enjoyed participating in other peoples' shows and I didn't want to stop networking just because I found a job, so it was only natural to combine both pursuits and start my own podcast. Interviewing guests, recording and producing the episodes has been a fun challenge. My resolution for the year was "to keep making connections and exploring new possibilities," and I nailed both with this one.

Mushroom Hunter 
Spring through fall found me heading to the forest any chance I got, to search for edible mushrooms. I cooked a ton of Shaggy Manes and found a huge Chicken-of-the-Woods mushroom right at the end of the season (I ate that too). My forays in the woods (and other miscellaneous adventures) are documented on Instagram, which was made possible by me getting an iPhone this year, finally. I don't know how I lived without it.

Art Projects
I resolved to draw a bunch of comics this year and started strong, but only made it through February. The Pokemon sugar cookies I decorated for Natalie's 6th birthday were a hit. I also illustrated the posters for two of our craft events this year. My primary creative outlet has been cross-stitch, which I still enjoy a lot. Everything's on Tumblr!

The Children
I guess I should write more about my daughters since the original purpose of this blog was to talk about parenthood. So here's the deal: Natalie and Paisley are the best daughters a dad could have. They have been my mushroom hunting assistants, sous chefs, artist collaborators, co-conspirators, and video game apprentices. I love being their father and I love them more than anything in the world.