Wedding season begins again

And it kicked off at the Mankato Bridal Show last Sunday. It was a good, exceptionally busy show.

 I played and played and played 

 (Canon in D, mostly)...

...while Mom, my trusty helper and point person, handed out brochures and chatted up brides and smiled that smile she smiles that makes people melt. And it helped. I booked three weddings - this hasn't happened right at a show for a long time. I'm hoping it means the economy, at least locally and at least bridally, is improving.

While the fashion show was going on, things got pretty quiet. So that's when I did my "networking" - visiting vendors I've known for years, sampling cupcakes, taste-testing decorated chocolates, collecting free pens and nail files, sniffing florists' bouquets...

...and playing in the photo booth.
(I want a photo booth in my house.)

I'm looking forward to this year's weddings and talking to more brides. If you know someone getting married, send them my way for ceremony and reception music!


It's finally winter, and it's all about wool

After the holiday season and before St. Patrick's Day, there's usually a wonderful lull in my schedule. I can snuggle in, watch movies, give the cats some quality snuggle-time, reconnect with friends, let the harps gather a little dust. And knit. Knit, knit, knit, knit, knit.

There are some projects on the needles, but I got distracted by an idea I saw on a holiday wreath and just couldn't get it out of my head. So I decided to try it.

 Felt flowers. 
Adorned with vintage earrings in the center.
I had a great time with these. I gave the trial run to my Mom for Christmas, and she loved it. 

She wore it all day.

The colorful flowers in the first photo I gave to my aunts - at the Kortuem Family Christmas Extravaganza. They loved them, too. Pinned them on right away and wore them all afternoon.

OK, back to knitting...


Lake Superior at midnight


And as the waves crashed to the shore and the snow fell
and the fire burned down, I bid farewell to 2011. 

Do you hear that? 
Music no human can emulate.

Welcome. Oh, welcome 2012.


Playing the harp in a sequined dress

A black dress covered in sequins for New Year's Eve. 
50% off. A lining that guaranteed I'd feel 10 pounds slimmer.

 It seemed like such a good idea that I even bought jewelry to match.

And standing there in the dressing room, everything certainly seemed fine. Actually, I don't ever just STAND in a dressing room when I'm trying on potential "harp clothes." I sit down and stretch my arms forward to make sure I can move. I squat to make sure I don't split anything out when I lift and load the harp. I twist around to make sure I have enough give in the sleeves to quickly turn pages of music on the stand in front of me. I bend down in front of the mirror to make sure nothing is...ahem...visible...from all sorts of angles. Then I jump up and down a little, just for fun. Dressing room monitors must love it when I try on clothes. Anyway, the dress passed the tests. 

Well, here's what they don't tell you in Vogue or InStyle or Glamour about wearing sequins - they're itchy as heck. They slice you around the neck. They scratch up your inner arms when you walk or lift them to play. They catch each other making for some awkward movements while you're trying to detach them without ripping your dress mid-song. They shed - all over the floor around you like confetti while you play.

And that lining? It didn't make me feel slimmer. After about 20 minutes of playing, it made me feel like I was being swallowed by a huge spandex python. Worse, the lining started rolling up on itself. Then it started riding up my legs. 

And up. And up. See what I mean?

The dangerous thing about playing the harp is that you hold the thing between your knees so you kinda need your legs covered to a point to prevent things from becoming x-rated. And dinner at Naniboujou is a family event, people. So I took a couple of breaks from the harp and hid in the hallway to readjust things. 

So, sequined dress...
...for sitting around and sipping sparkling things, you're ok.
But as a "harp dress," you failed, honey.


Oh, that fireplace...

The biggest in Minnesota.
But it needs something...

...yeah, that's more like it.

Naniboujou Lodge asked if I would provide music for their New Year's Eve dinner, and honestly I couldn't think of a cozier, more beautiful place to be as 2011 turned into 2012. So I packed up the harp and squeezed everything into the trusty TrailBlazer and hit the road. It's about 400 miles to Naniboujou Lodge from my house. But this mild Minnesota winter made the drive easy. I brought music to listen to - Loreena McKennitt singing some old favorites, Anne Azema singing medieval troubadour songs, haunting music by Icelandic composer Olafur Arnalds - to help pass the time. And just as I pulled into the lodge, it started to snow gently. Perfect.

 On New Year's Eve night, I put on my sparkliest dress, 
wheeled the harp in front of all that glorious fire and played. 

 And played and played and played.

I said goodbye to my Christmas and holiday music and worked in some Celtic, some Classical, some Baroque. Some Amy Kortuem originals. As dinner turned to dessert turned to coffee, people gathered at the fireplace to listen. I kept playing.

Finally the hostess came over and told me that the chef had made me a second dinner because the first dinner had gone cold. Nearly everyone had gone back to their rooms. I reluctantly took the harp from my shoulder and moved to my table.

Toasted the evening with sparkling cider and another log on the fire.