And A Happy New Year

I love the start of a New Year.  Always have, always will.  After the holidays at the year's end, it's easy to forget all that was accomplished.  But taking New Year's night to pause, reflect, and push forward gives me a much broader and deeper appreciation of all that was accomplished.  So here I go again.   A year in review.

My World In 2016

On the home front, I raised a beautiful 4 month-old boy into a thriving and crazy 16 month-old toddler.  He has kept me busier than any job I've ever had.  It's been a joy and a challenge to keep his curious mind busy.  My husband and I love to watch the person he is becoming...we are filled with a lot of excitement and a bit of terror.  In May, we found out we're expecting another baby.  I've raised her for 37 weeks in my belly, and I can't wait to meet her.  She has admittedly slowed me down at work, but it's been worth it.  I'm excited to welcome her into our family in 3 weeks.  In October, my mother underwent an open heart surgery and recovered at our home; she's healing up like the feisty champ she is.  And in November, my husband changed jobs and has spent half the holiday season out of the country.  Despite the distance, our family has never been closer.  

At my building that I'm renovating into The Norwegian, I'm so filled with pride for every single second of good honest work I've put into this old gem of a spot. My hands and mind have never been worked so hard.  In January and February, I took two government workshops to become an EPA Certified Renovator, as well as to receive certification proving my knowledge of International Building Code.  With the help of Jim Siebel, Joe Derr, and my husband, all the electrical was brought up to date in my building.  It took two months, but we passed inspection on the first try.  In March and April, a great team led by John Broda at Roscoe Interiors repaired the holes in the plaster in my ceiling and walls, which was later painted by me, as well as the awesome guys from Perennial Painting.  I replaced all of my ceiling tiles and light fixtures, and I'm proud to say that all my upstairs offices are LED powered.  I applied for the city's facade program.  It took about 10 months to come to fruition, but I'm thrilled with the brand new windows; they look fantastic thanks to Steve Lizer's crew at Raintree and the counsel of the city's team of helpful staff (I so appreciate you Jovita, Mark, Todd, Thaddeus, Wayne, Larry, Ned, Nora, and of course Tom McNamara).  I refinished all my existing wood trim, doors, and baseboards, and I refurbished two flights of stairs and two large bathrooms.  I repainted the whole back exterior of my building, as well as all my radiators.  Bathroom fixtures were re-enameled by the incredible Mark Schulz at Rockford Refinishing.  In September, I hit a big snag and struggled mightily with finding the source of more leaky pipes, but after a few months, we got all the ceiling leaks and ensuing plaster problems all squared away, thanks to the crew at Freed Plumbing.  I learned about branding and created logos for my restaurant, my upstairs offices, and the barbershop on the main floor.  New front door glass was installed by Matt and Mark, the geniuses at Ability Glass.  And of course my biggest accomplishment was bringing back my upstairs maple floors, a labor of extreme love.  It took 6 full months of me scraping tar on my hands and knees, and then having Bob Botts and his crew from Robert's Hard Woods sand the floors back to their original glory.  I have to give a big shout out to people who pitched in a few hours when they could (this means you, Joan Hurd, Mark Christensen, Dave Risley, Bob Peterson, Aerin Tedesco, Mai Vukcevich, Shiow-Jiau Yung, Paul Christensen, Sarah Lizer, Sarah Shaw, Ben Shaw, Carolyn Cadigan, Matt Christensen, Jill Christensen, Holli Connell, Doug Connell, Kenneth Christensen, and Kirstin Christensen). I feel so supported by my community, and I'm excited to announce that my upstairs offices are now available to rent through Elmo Dowd at Berkshire Hathaway.  I will continue to work with my talented architect Helmuth Redschlag to create the restaurant on the main floor.

On the music front, I've never been busier.  After 2015's successful Kickstarter, I spent most weekends of 2016 playing 30 of the 45 house concerts that I owe my backers.  I wrote and started recording another Americana album at Chicago's King Size Sound Labs, and I also started another original holiday album and released the title track on iTunes a few weeks ago.  I toured Germany for three weeks in the fall, and I found out recently that a live album of my show in Kastle is available to buy (ask me how to get a copy at  In the United States, I played everywhere from Massachusetts to Michigan for some of the nicest people I've had the privilege of meeting.

Phew.  So what comes next?  Well Reader, in 2017, I first and foremost hope to give birth to a healthy baby, to enjoy my family, to write and play music, and of course to get my restaurant open.  But I also hope to build strong ties in my community, to fight hard for what I believe in--including environmental and human rights issues--and to have my words and actions line up.  Raising children in this crazy world makes me realize just how important it is to stand for what matters to you, and to be sure to follow up on your good intentions.  This is my biggest wish for 2017.

And my biggest wish for you, Reader, is for you to be happy and fulfilled in your own life and desires. May this year find you working for all you believe in.  As always,  I am grateful to you for keeping up with me here every Sunday.  I'll see you next week.  Happy New Year! -Em


  • Tom & Sheri
    Tom & Sheri Rockford
    Wow!!! What a busy woman. How did you do all that??? We are wishing you a Very Happy New Year and best wishes throughout 2017.

    Wow!!! What a busy woman. How did you do all that??? We are wishing you a Very Happy New Year and best wishes throughout 2017.

  • Emily Hurd
    Emily Hurd
    Happy New Year to you both, Tom! Thanks for checking in with me every week!

    Happy New Year to you both, Tom! Thanks for checking in with me every week!

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