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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Manifesto for the underemployed, not wanting it all and other thoughts on doing very little with your time

When I made the move from El Paso to Evanston last summer, I told myself I would totally switch career gears and change from a workaholic media producer who didn't know her son's teacher's names to a person with a regular job, who lightly participated in parenting. I was determined to finally take my maternity leave (both pregnancies found me back at work within days of delivering my children) and just hang out for the summer and then find a regular job, working 40 hours a week, maybe even 35, and be happy about it.

The break lasted six months and I finally went to work at the beginning of last December, where I work 35 hours a week at a totally regular job doing project management for the advancement office at the Illinois Institute of Technology.

My six months off found me just hanging out in my apartment and at the beach. I didn't do much with my free time and I was totally okay with it (most days). On days where I wanted to nap, I napped. It turns out it's incredibly easy to do nothing, you just have to keep the television off and your social life to a minimum so that peer pressure doesn't put you off your game.

Recently my old friend Molly Miller transitioned out of a job and now finds herself with lots of free time. She sent around a manifesto and I just had to post it here as so much of my last year has been spent telling myself that "it's okay to do nothing" and you've been living through it with me. Molly makes not doing much sound so empowering, I love it and I just had to share it.

Manifesto for the Underemployed by Molly Miller

Getting as much sleep as you want and need will make you feel amazing
After mid day power yoga & hot shower, it’s ok to change from your yoga pants into a clean pair of yoga pants. Who needs clothes?
If your mouth feels weird half way through the day, ask yourself, did you forget to brush your teeth?
Laying down on your bed with the covers over you and napping while the rain softly falls is a very good thing to do after an intense mid day yoga class
Planning soups and having the time to go get the ingredients and make the soup is not just for Sundays now. That goes for anything you want to make
Make things
When all else fails, go to the park and walk or just walk in the neighborhood. Walk to the store and get fennel for soup. Take the long way through the park.
Go to the museum
Write a blog
Catch up with friends
Call your aunt in the nursing home in Palm Springs
Make your friends dinner
Clean your closet
Detox your liver
Sit in bed and drink tea and read
Sit in the park and read
Only send out resumes to people you really, really, really want to work for or with
Don’t answer ads
Send out notes or make calls or have coffee or attend an event with three to five people a week whose work interests you
Don’t waste any more time looking for jobs than necessary
Spend as much time being happy as possible
Play with the cat
Feel how easy it is to be patient and loving with strangers and friends and family when you are rested
Volunteer with no expectations

Thanks Molly, you said all of this so well. For just a little background Molly and I used to work together at Sussex Publishers around 1996 when Sussex used to own Mother Earth News Magazine. Molly was a senior editor and I was the managing editor and we really enjoyed working together. We've been friends ever since 1996 and we haven't collaborated on any projects since our Sussex days. Maybe this blog post should be the start of something beautiful, then again I'm just starting to love doing a whole lot of nothing.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Evanston Artist Dave Ford Competes in ArtPrize 2012

Today is the first day of ArtPrize, an art contest in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where the public awards more than $250,000 worth of prize money to their favorite artists.

My husband Dave Ford is competing this year with his Swing Set Drum Kit an interactive sonic sculpture encouraging kids to build rhythmic sounds with a swing set. The piece will be on display in Calder Plaza from Sept. 19 - Oct. 6.

More than 1,500 artists are competing and the event attracts more than 300,000 visitors to downtown Grand Rapids. You have to be a local to vote but it's worth the day trip to Grand Rapids to check out the art and people watch.

If you could, send good vibes eastward to Dave Ford and his Swing Set Drum Kit starting today through Sept. 30 when the top 10 artists are announced.

I am posting event updates and news on Dave's blog at and you can learn more about ArtPrize at

This sonic sculpture originally showed in the public art festival in El Paso, TX, Chalk the Block where Frederico Villalba shot the image above. Wouldn't it be fantastic to put the Swing Set Drum Kit in the front lawn of the Evanston Art Center? I'll add that to my list of things to do!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Fundraiser: Eat Homemade Pizza, Clothe a Child

This Wednesday, Homemade Pizza in Evanston will donate $4 of every pizza sale to the Evanston School Children's Clothing Association, a community organization with a simply wonderful mission: "To ensure that no child miss a day of school for need of warm, sturdy clothing".

Find out more about the organization below and other events you can volunteer at.

Visit to check out the menu and they deliver!


ESCCA (Evanston School Children's Clothing Association) is a wonderful, all-volunteer, community organization with a simple mission: "To ensure that no child miss a day of school for need of warm, sturdy clothing".

Thursday, September 27 is Dewey's first ESCCA volunteer night from 6:45pm-9pm. Volunteers will be helping families pick out a full set of school clothing for their children. Please contact Kelly Siddiqui at or 847-563-8172 if you are able to volunteer or have any questions.

ESCCA also needs volunteers to help sort clothing donations every other Friday starting Friday, September 14 from 9am-12noon. This is a great way to check out ESCCA and see what they do at the District 65 Administration Building at 1500 McDaniel Avenue.

Lastly, support ESCCA at the Homemade Pizza Company on Wednesday, September 19. ESCCA will receive a percentage of every large pizza ($4 per pie!), salad, gift card, calzone, and flatbread purchased at the Dempster/Chicago Ave. location between 1:00 and 8:00 p.m. Online orders accepted up to three weeks in This is a wonderful, easy way to support ESCCA--and get out of making dinner. Please spread the word to friends, neighbors, colleagues, and any hungry people you run into.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Evanston Newbie: Evanstonians are hipper than they realize, just ask the Millennials!

The illustration above is from The Atlanic's article "The Cheapest Generation" which talks about just how much kids today love living close to the city and don't love buying cars. Although I usually hate articles that focus on what people buy, I found myself reading the entire thing because it's all about me and my love for Evanston's walkability factor.

Granted I moved to Evanston from one of the geographically largest cities in America, El Paso, TX, where you could drive on a freeway for 35 minutes and still be "in town", the walkability of Evanston has been a massive treat. In fact, I quite frequently blog about all the places I can walk to, including Pete Millers Steakhouse for raw oysters.

And when we were researching our relocation project, Evanston got endless amounts of high marks for the mere fact that I can walk to everything from my doctor's office to my dentist's office to the library to a spice store not to mention a Native American Indian Museum.

And if anyone is worried that the demographics of Evanston will soon shift to a much younger and hipper crowd, you are right to worry! According this article, “People are very eager to create a life that blends the best features of the American suburb—schools still being the primary, although not the only, draw—and urbanity,” says Adam Ducker, a managing director at the real-estate consultancy RCLCO. These are places like Culver City, California, and Evanston, Illinois, where residents can stroll among shops and restaurants or hop on public transportation. Such small cities and town centers lend themselves to tighter, smaller housing developments, whether apartments in the middle of town, or small houses a five-minute drive away. An RCLCO survey from 2007 found that 43 percent of Gen‑Yers would prefer to live in a close-in suburb, where both the houses and the need for a car are smaller."

Does this mean a boom is coming for Evanston? Is America going to follow me here? I don't think Evanston could be ruined by gentrification but it could use more street traffic and stores, that's always fun!

Read the full article here and see for yourself. If you are an Evanstonian, you are hipper than you know!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Eat this: Plum Kuchen from Bennison's Bakery

I recently purchased a plum kuchen from Bennison's Bakery for $9 and had it not been for the other people sitting around me when it came time to serve it up, I would have eaten the entire thing - all 9" of it (see below).

Plums are in season which means Bennison's is rolling out plum kuchens everyday for your eating enjoyment. It's a coffee cake type of treat, and if you slice it thin enough (see above), it's not too rich to enjoy with a cup of tea anytime of day.

I know it seems that I'm heavy on the Bennison's Bakery love on this blog, but I don't love every item they have, but the items they do have that I love, I really, really, really love. And I loved this plum kuchen.


Thank you for reading my blog "Evanston Newbie", a project that I am using to chronicle my new life in Evanston since moving my family here from El Paso, TX, in 2011. Do you have favorite Evanston bakeries, bike shops, events that you can recommend? Send me an email at and I will post my review on this blog. -Lisa Degliantoni

Monday, September 3, 2012

Happy Labor Day from Evanston!

This photo was taken yesterday at the Hinman Street Block Party. Several families who live on the block invite a fire truck out to spray kids around 2 p.m. as part of the block party which consists of blocking off the street so about 25 children can run amok on bikes and swizzle sticks and scooters all day in the middle of the street. It's super casual and fun with parents bringing out big trays of watermelon and tubs of lemonade throughout the day.

We live around the corner, not on Hinman, but we got invited by one of the parents and totally said 'yes'! I spent the entire day, sitting on the curb, talking to neighbors, fixing bike chains, filling up cups of water, doing nothing really. And it was so great to spend the entire day outside. Once the sun set, one of the houses set up a screen in the front yard and showed Ferris Bueller's Day Off and Young Frankenstein. We stayed up until 11 p.m. watching movies and chatting.

I can't think of the last time I spent 12 hours outside! You should really try it sometime if you haven't done it.

Talking to one of the moms at the party, I told her that this summer has been one of the best of my life - the wine probably helped that conclusion - but as she asked me why and I heard myself defending the assertion (love Evanston, love the beach, kids were gone for three weeks, first time in a bikini (top) in years, etc.) I couldn't help but think it's because of you, lady! Evanston has welcomed my entire family with such kindness and open arms it's unbelievable. We've been invited to parties since the minute we landed and everyone is so nice! A new town full of parties and nice people - who wouldn't have the best summer of their life?

I am so grateful for so many things these days and hope you've all had an amazing summer too. May your Labor Day be restful and spent with fun people!