Holiday Wishes - from the Jungles of Wiscompton

Dear Reetsyburger Readers,

If I had the wherewithal and a DeLorean DMC12 time traveler, each one of you would receive something very special for the holidays from my friend Kaptain Kubly at the Swiss Colony Catalog - my most favorite catalog in the whole wide world.

If I had my way, I'd travel back in time to 1978, and present each and every one of you with your very own savagely predatory Pet Gouda to love and cherish. While you sat near your holiday tree bedecked with googly eyes, you'd lovingly devour your mellow, creamy pet. And I? I would brim over with glee as I sat drinking my brandy old fashioned in the vast and snowy jungles of Wiscompton.

Deep in the Jungles of Wisconsin lurks the fierce and terrible “Wild Gouda”, fleet of foot and savagely predatory! With the ruthless instincts of a cunning wild beast, only Kaptain Kubly our “great white hunter” could hope to track and capture him. NOW . . . after months of training and obedience school, we have a Pet Gouda for YOU! The same glowing, waxy red coat, but underneath lies the most mellow, creamy personality you can imagine. This mild-mannered, lovable pet, comes with his own specially designed crate. Everyone will enjoy a Pet Gouda.

Unabashedly Yours,

[where: 55406]

I *heart* my AeroGarden® 3 Pod

For my birthday, back in October, gerg hooked this gal up with a SWEET AeroGarden® 3 Pod.

At half the size of the AeroGarden Classic, the AeroGarden 3 is perfect for kitchens that are tight on counter space. It's great as a “living flower bouquet” on a dresser or desk, or if you're cooking for just one or two people. The new Advanced Growing System achieves up to 30% greater growth than the AeroGarden Classic. You can grow fresh herbs, vegetables, salad greens and flowers with the “3”, just like the Classic.

My AeroGarden® 3 Pod came with the English Garden flower kit, and I've also got some vegetables that I can plant after the flowers are done. I started with the flower kit in October because I thought it would be nice to have flowers growing indoors in the middle of winter.

We now have beautiful pink blooms, and I couldn't be happier with how easy and effective this little machine is. Fill it with water about once per week, add a bizarre "nutrient tablet" when the machine tells you to, and watch it go. My AeroGarden® 3 was customized with googly eyes by gerg, which makes it even awesomer.

Eventually, I decided to take advantage of the powerful growing light by placing some of my other house plants near the AeroGarden® 3 Pod. They have benefited tremendously from the spillover light.

Day 1

Day 21

Day 25

Day 37

Day 61 - Blossom Explosion!!!!

[where: 55406]

Walking on Sunshine

To whom it may concern:

Today I'm walking on sunshine.

It doesn't matter that I have to get my wisdom teeth pulled this afternoon because this morning, this message showed up in my inbox:


Just a brief note to tell you that your final paper was one of the best I've read since teaching in this program.

Thank you for such a fine effort.

Professor Maher

I totally got props for my FOINE effort!


[where: 55406]

Fresh Breath for Sale

My poetry book is done.

It's called Fresh Breath.

It's now available on at

I'd be glad to lick, bite, or karate chop your copy if you buy one.

Read what Aaron Landry has to say about my book by clicking here.

[where: 55406]

The Flu, 2008 Style

Last year's flu was a wreck. I wasn't prepared. I fell behind with work. The house was a disaster.

This year, I'm one step ahead. Somehow I drove myself to work this morning and collected a bunch of stuff I need so I can work from home.

Of course, at this point, I'm so uncomfortable, I can barely type this nonsense, let alone write something meaningful for work.

At least I have a Christmas tree to brighten the room, and I have this bag of pretzels.

I have a hunch this year's flu is gonna be a wreck too. I wonder if booze would help....

[where: 55406]

Reetsy's Thanksgiving Allegory

My Thanksgiving Allegory:

As a graduate student, I am the potato the week before Thanksgiving. The potato masher is finals.

As you can see from my allegory, Thanksgiving is not for graduate students....or undergrads for that matter.

As Thanksgiving approaches, many non-students anticipate 4-5 days traveling and eating Thanksgiving food stuffs with family and friends, which seems stellar to me for two reasons: I like eating Thanksgiving food stuffs. I like my family and friends.

Why, then, is Thanksgiving a pain in my rump roast? FINALS.

While everyone else is eating leftovers, drinking old fashioneds. and watching the Peanuts Thanksgiving special, I'll be sitting with laptop on lap, trying to write an evaluation of the fiscal condition of some municipality in some state that is worth 50% of my final grade, probably realizing I've left a valuable document, book, or flash drive at home. At this point, I will ask for an old fashioned.

While aunts and mothers go shopping, I'll be frantically pounding out emails to absent-minded group members attempting to finalize a group project that has become, at this point, the bane of my existence. At this point, I will ask for an old fashioned.

While sisters and brothers are busy making plans for the Christmas holiday, I'll be realizing that I have no time to do any planning - or laundry, for that matter - until December 21st. At this point, I will ask for an old fashioned.

I'm noticing now that this might imply that I'm not thankful for the thanking holiday, which just isn't the case.

Thank you, Thanksgiving for giving me a chance to chow down with family and friends.

I promise to gleefully participate in the festivities once I'm done with grad school. And when I do graduate and am able to participate with cheer, I will ask for an old fashioned.

[where: 55406]

HOLD ON 4.....a YouTube Hero Emerges


Evergreen Chinese: Dumplings for Lovers

Some people crave steak. Some people crave wings. Some people crave chocolate.

Me? I crave dumplings.

I pine for dumplings from every corner of every culture. Pierogi, gnochhi, jiaozi, momos, gyōza, matzah balls, and even plain ol chicken n' dumplins - I crave them all without prejudice.

With Asian dumplings on the brain on a damp November evening, we contemplated Jun Bo or Tanpopo, but we instead headed to Evergreen Chinese, a Taiwanese spot recommended by Andrew Zimmern for its jiaozi (potstickers). Located in a lower level, beneath a flower shop on eat sreet, Evergreen is understated in appearance. There ain't nothing fancy about this joint. For the most part, it seems they devote their energy to the food.

A server wearing a sweatshirt, sneakers, and jeans brought us some hot tea, and dropped off the menus. Most of the entrees fell at, or below, $10.

We started the meal with some boiled peanuts and potstickers.

Cold boiled peanuts are strange and savory and good. They're especially good with hot tea. Gerg looks wary in the photograph, but that had more to do with our conversation than the peanuts.

You might notice there are no photos of the potstickers. We ate all the potstickers before I realized I forgot to take a photo. Why did we scarf them down so quickly, you ask? Because they were SUPER tasty. Tender, juicy, and perfectly browned on the bottom, they are an on point dumpling. I feel strange about the fact that I didn't take a photo of my favorite part of the meal. However, my date was a fox, and I got distracted. SO THERE.

For our entrees, gerg ordered the moo shu pork and I ordered the three cup tofu.

The moo shu pork was a combo of shredded pork with cabbage, carrots, mushrooms, eggs, and green onions, served with two pancakes, which were more like crepes. A red squeeze bottle of hoisin sauce accompanied the entree to the table. The green onion was nice and crisp. The pork was tender. The portion was ample, to the extent that some of it fell off of the plate.

The three cup tofu is kind of amazing. It's fried tofu served up with heaps of garlic, basil, and ginger, in a sauce made with soy sauce, sesame oil, and cooking wine. I added a little hoisin sauce just because, but that was unnecessary. Looking for a flavor explosion? Try the three cup tofu. The tofu was fried tofu- nothing rad, or anything, but the SAUCE was.....WIN.

Oh, and for the vegetarians out there, Evergreen Chinese has more mock meats than, well, any other place I've been to in Minneapolis - mock chicken, mock pork, mock beef, mock duck, mock shrimp, and mock squid. That's some serious mockiness. You can even have the potstickers made with mock meat. Lucky you!

Our bill for the evening was about $28. I'll need to head back to try the steamed dumplings, steamed buns, and the sauteed eggplant.

PS - In addition to accepting any and all items from the Swiss Colony catalog, I am now accepting dumplings as gifts.

[where: 55406]

Reetsyburger's Cheeseyburger Date

Recently, Gerg and I headed out on a cheeseburger day date on a not-so-nice day in November. We were inspired by Dara Moskowitz's article, "Burger Kings," published in Minnesota Monthly magazine.

CHEESEBURGER DAY DATE??? Indeed! The cheeseburger day date was contrived as a response to the leaves being too frozen rake. "We can't rake?? Let's eat cheeseburgers! "

Our plan: to patronize two of Dara's destination recommendations, and to split a burger at each of those two venues, thereby increasing our intake of burger options and venues in one fell swoop. Indeed, we killed two burgers with one stone.

To prepare for our date, I engaged in an hour-long morning workout, and consumed a glass of white wine for breakfast. By 1pm, we were out the door, dreaming about cheeseburgers for lunch.

We selected two stops: King's Place in Miesville, MN and the House of Coates in Coates, MN.

We headed to the King's Place first. King's Place ain't fancy - just simply decorated with beer signs and a Hamm's bear statue from March 2007. Starving, we grabbed two stools at the bar, ordered a tall glass of Hamm's and started to peruse their burger menu.

They offer more than 35 types of burgers at King's Place, including the Triple Play Burger topped with bacon, cheddar, swiss, pepper-jack, green olives, and sour cream. They also have one of those Goober Burgers with peanut butter and mayo on it. We decided to split the most frequently ordered King Burger. Two gals in a very tiny kitchen cranked our burger out in no time. Also, they wore leg weights.

Behold, the King Burger.

The King Burger at the King's Place is awesomely tasty. Nicely seasoned, very juicy, tender, slightly charred, the beef burger was topped with grilled onions, American cheese, mushrooms, and bacon. The bun was buttery and barely there - napkins were definitely in order. The grilled onions practically melted. We both agreed we really liked this burger. We agree with Dara; this burger has inherent awesomeness. "Devourable" is the perfect word to describe this burger. After we finished it, gerg wanted to order another. However, we knew we had another burger awaiting us in Coates, MN.

After about 15 minutes, we arrived at the House of Coates, in the middle of nowhere, still hungry enough to split another burger. The House of Coates' decor consists of plywood booths, rafters leading to nowhere, bar stools, and a pull tab booth. I ordered a Summit IPA, and gerg, being a pepper, ordered a Dr. Pepper.

Their menu offers a handful of burgers - the most strange being a "Vegemite" burger, which is a burger topped with cheese and vegetables such as cauliflower and broccoli. We opted for their house favorite, the Swanee Burger.

The Swanee Burger is served with American cheese, onion, and bacon, with a pickle on the side. The beef was a tad dry. The grilled onions were tender and buttery. The bun was big. I would have preferred a less substantial bun, and a rarer burger. It was a filling burger, and worth it, for the price. I think we were the only non-regulars in the joint.

Overall, the cheeseburger day date was a success. Two burgers were split. One was awesome. One was decent. And with a $100 pull tab win, the date paid for itself.

We are in the process of developing justifications for a drive back Miesville. We're eager to go back and try some of King's Place's more wacky combinations. We raved about the King Burger while we were eating it. We raved about it as we finished our Hamm's and played pull tabs. We're still raving about it today.

[where: 55406]

Preparing Myself for Owning Uggs

I'm SO over having cold feet in the winter. I'm SO over it.
I can barely bear the thought of having cold feet again this winter.

So I did it.

In a stylistically nightmarish move, I bought a pair of boots that are ugly and cozy.

I went with the short ones because I thought they were less ugly than the tall ones.

Will I rokk them outside of the house? Not sure.
Will I rokk them inside the house and smile about having warm feet? You betcha!

[where: 55406]

The Great Wasp Nest Snafu

On a sunny autumn afternoon, after all the leaves fell off our trees, we noticed a big wasp nest in the birch tree.

I suggested that we knock it down from the tree, since the frost had already come and gone, and the wasps had vacated the nest. Gerg climbed the tree, and shook the branch with might. The wasp nest did not budge. Next, we attempted lobbing several items at the nest. Gerg was able to secure a solid hit with a red, rubber dog toy, and we cheered. If you look closely, you can see the object flying through the air, just above the higher power line.

However, while it was, indeed, a most palpable hit, the nest did not fall. Rather, the dog toy became lodged in the wasp nest, as evidenced in this photo. Other attempts to knock down the nest and the toy were fruitless. Soon it became dark, and we suspended our efforts for the evening with the wasp nest and dog toy still stuck in the tree.

On a cool autumn evening, our dog gave me dirty looks all night.

[where: 55406]

Oktoberfest Birthday Blitz

A birthday celebration in the form of an Oktoberfest party?
Sounds awesome to me!

Worth noting:
  • Giant steins being passed around among a group of friends are AWESOME.
  • The German chocolate cake from Wuolett Bakery is AWESOME.
  • Friends that dress up in goofy ensembles to celebrate your birthday are AWESOME.
  • The freshly made beer and pork bratwurst from Everett's Food and Meats are AWESOME.
  • Boots of Jaeger Bomb shots lead to insanity.
  • The 50 liter kegs of Bitburger from Zipp's are AWESOME.
  • Husbands who throw you an Oktoberfest birthday party are AWESOME.
  • Shots of blackberry brandy are totally underrated.


[where: 55406]

Happy Birthday, Nachos!

Today, the beloved dish of many celebrates its 65th birthday.
So let's give it up for the epitome of ideal food that we call Nachos!

It's Nacho Birthday

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling too hungry
For the ends of olives and nacho cheese.
I love thee to the level that I love
sweet, creamy guac, by sun or candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for steaks;
I love thee purely, as they turn from pears.
I love thee with a passion put to use
In my old tastes, and with my childhood's craves.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost soup, --- I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! --- and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after lunch.

[where: 55406]

Pumpkin Carving Madness

This weekend we picked up 25 pumpkins for carving purposes.

Reason being, this upcoming Saturday, at my Oktoberfest Birthday Blitz, guests will be carving pumpkins upon arrival.

I say upon arrival because knives should really be put away before the kegger gets tapped, if you know what I mean.

I noticed Ray Villafane's pumpkin carving prowess on Boing Boing, and became even more ENTHUSED about the pumpkin carving this weekend.

Check out Villafane's pumpkin carvings.
Dude has mad skills.

[where: 55406]

EPA Answers My Questions about our Superfund Yard in Minneapolis

After writing this post, I sent an email to the EPA regarding our questions about the EPA Superfund cleanup project going on in our south Minneapolis neighborhood.

Here are the the questions I posed and the responses I received from the Tim Prendiville, EPA Remedial Project Manager:

- Are there are alternatives to replacing the lawn with native species or a rock garden? Would the EPA consider using native species for replanting?

We start with the premise that we will replace like with like. So if someone has a chainlink fence, and we need to replace it we will go in planning to replace it with a chain link fence. However, we are willing to be flexible in our approach to the restoration of the properties. In considering requests like those you've proposed people need to keep in mind that we are not doing this cleanup to improve people's landscaping. We are doing it to provide a safe yard. The controlling factor in considering these types of request is that our work cannot result in a "betterment" of the property. Practically speaking this means that we will not replace one item with another item that is of a higher cost. We would have to look at the cost of replacing a lawn with native vegetation before we could agree, but it sounds like it is possible. However, replacing a lawn with a rock garden would not likely be o.k. because of the increased cost of materials and labor. We may be willing to consider a situation where the owner independently negotiates with the contractor for a rock garden, but EPA would pay for a portion of that work equivalent to what reseeding the lawn might have cost. The owner would be responsible for overseeing the installation of that material themselves.

- Should we hold off on installing that new sidewalk and patio that we were going to install?

If people have plans for work like that I have told people not to necessarily hold off. I cannot say when cleanup work on the property will happen. It may happen next summer, but it also may take a few years to get done. This is because we have close to 500 properties to cleanup and also because we don't know when funding will be available to start work. The earliest we could start this work would be next summer. So my advice to people is to just do what you think you need to do, with the understanding that you should try to follow the suggestions in the attached fact sheet* - "How to reduce accidental intake of contaminated soils". Once we start work we will try to avoid taking equipment over sidewalks and patios, but some times it is unavoidable. If we damage it we will replace or repair it.

- Who pays for all the water necessary to re-establish the plantings?

We are still working on the exact specifications for the landscaping contractor, but generally we include several weeks of watering after the planting. The idea is for us to water the reseeded lawns until they have started to grow. At the same time they will water any other plants that were replanted. After that initial period of planting and watering it will be the homeowners responsibility to water the plants.

-Will they be removing the soil directly next to our house? Will our foundation be compromised? That's a lot of soil to remove and if it cracks while they are working, we could have issues down the road.

The excavations require a slope at the sides of the excavation to avoid side walls from falling into the hole. So by necessity we would not be able to dig immediately next to a house. Our desire is to stay away from the foundation for the very reasons you are concerned. If digging close to the house is required we likely would hand dig that area.

Before starting work we will video document the condition of the property, including the condition of the foundation. A copy of the video will be provided to you. We will do the same when we are done with the work. This is to protect both the homeowner and the contractor when it comes to claims of damage. If we damage something we will repair, or replace it.

-How will water drain off our property? The last thing we want is water running into our house the first time it rains (or snows) more than an inch.

Our goal is to return the property to its original condition, to the
extent that we can, including drainage. There have been instances where the ground sloped toward a house before we started and we sloped it away when we were done to improve drainage. We try, as best we can, to match the original compaction of the soil to make sure the ground drains the way it originally did. We have run into some issues with drainage in the past, but we have always returned to correct any problems if we caused them.

-Are they going to cut down our trees so they can remove the contaminated soil? We're not particularly attached to our trees, but we'd like to know.

We generally try to hand dig around trees to avoid damaging the root systems and have been pretty successful up to this point. If there is some question about whether a tree will survive even hand digging we could do additional sampling to make sure the soil needs to come out from around the tree, or just agree to remove the tree and replace it when we are done. These questions are going to come down to property specific issues that we will work through with the homeowner before we start work.

* click on these thumbnails to view full size imag

[where: 55406]

Backyard Burning in Minneapolis

Looks like Minneapolis has something to say about people with fire pits in their backyards at the Star Tribune online.

The problem with wood smoke, said Dr. Norman Edelman, chief medical officer for the American Lung Association, is that it contains hundreds of toxic chemicals, almost like cigarette smoke.

Burning also releases lots of fine particulates, he said. Some get stuck in the nose and throat and cause irritation and coughing. But extremely fine particles penetrate into the deepest part of the lungs, Edelman said, causing inflammation that provokes acute breathing problems for those who have asthma, bronchitis or other respiratory diseases.

Concerns about wood smoke from recreational burning are similar to workplace complaints about people who wear strong fragrances, he said.

"People have a right not to have their health and well- being impaired by what other people do, especially if what other people are doing is not necessary," Edelman said.

John Seltz, air policy supervisor for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, said that it's not necessary for the state to regulate recreational burning, because ambient air quality is generally good. However, he said, that doesn't hold true for someone just downwind of a smoky fire who is getting a heavy dose of pollutants. "In individual nuisance situations, cities will have to try and work them out," Seltz said.

Personally, I'm not up in arms about health risks from back yard fire pits. Whatever I'm doing on a daily basis is much worse for me than my neighbor's occasional wood smoke.

[where: Minneapolis, Fire Pits, 55406]

Our Superfund Yard in Minneapolis

Have you heard about arsenic contamination in South Minneapolis?

If not, an area in South Minneapolis has been declared an EPA Superfund area due to arsenic contamination from an old fertilizer plant. Nearly $18 million from the Superfund will be used to replace lawns contaminated.

We received a letter from the EPA this week regarding our property. Our's is one of the residences that will have the entire 12-18" of the topsoil removed and replaced by the EPA next year....from what I understand, both our entire front yard and back yard are contaminated.

I am grateful for the cleanup effort. I'm also glad we planted our garden in hanging buckets using growing soil that we purchased.

I have a feeling we'll need to learn to love dirt and mud....really embrace it. It's gonna be a messy, messy project digging out 12-18" inches of topsoil from our rather large city lot and replacing it, especially when you add a dog into the mix. I will be zen about it, and consider it my "earth" year...a chance to focus on that magical element made of stones, sand, clays and humus.

I'm building a list of questions about this project:
- Are there are alternatives to replacing the lawn with native species or a rock garden?
- Should we hold off on installing that new sidewalk and patio?
- Who pays for all the water necessary to re-establish the plantings?

[where: EPA Superfund, South Minneapolis, 55406]

Our Hanging Garden

Last fall while I was at a conference with a bunch of farmers and ranchers, I was complaining that while we have a big back yard, the only sunny spot is where the dog does his thing, which is less than ideal for a vegetable garden.

A colleague of mine from the AfroEco Group, who specializes in urban gardening, offered me this advice: "Do an upside-down garden. Take advantage of the sunny spot and keep your dog AND the squirrels away from your veggies." Throughout our lunch break, he gave me the basics.

I came home enthused and throughout the winter I was pumped to start experimenting with the upside down vegetables. Gerg was game, and helped with the logistics.

This photo was taken on the first day.

First, gerg made sure the house was structurally prepared for the extra weight.
- We drilled holes in the bottom of the buckets.
-Then we fed the plants through, roots pointing upwards. We wrapped moss around the roots to help hold the plants in place.
-Finally, we filled the buckets with good soil, hung and watered them.

We selected these green buckets, which were formerly pickle buckets at a local burger joint. We purchased them for $2 each. Because they were already food grade, we didn't have to worry as much about chemical residue. We scrubbed them well, and planted.

This photo was taken on the 34th day.
-Large, strong hooks are in order. A 5 gallon bucket full of wet soil and plant roots isn't light.
-Strong, solid fascia boards are in order as well.
-We purchased a watering device with a longer neck, so we could water the plants while they were hanging. One advantage to the upside down bucket method is a lot less watering when it's dry outside.

The final result was 4 productive plants: 2 tomatoes, one pepper, and one basil. Go here to see more photos of the project. Not one tomato was stolen by a squirrel. Not one. BOOYAH!

[where: 55406]

The Hook in that Cadillac Escalade Commercial

I had to know what that hook was in the Cadillac Escalade Hybrid commercial. You'll know what I'm talking about when the song hits :39.

I have a thing for elecktro. Basically, I can't get enough.

Thanks to the Shazam application on our iPhones, we were able to figure it out.

Band: Justice

Song: Genesis

Album: Cross

Worth Noting, for ButterBurger Lovers

I received an email today which may interest a few ButterBurger lovers I know...I'm looking in atrain and IIII's directions.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

"Join us October 7th as we celebrate our 24th year of mouth-watering ButterBurgers and fresh frozen custard. Just drop by your neighborhood Culver's and enjoy up to five $1 single ButterBurgers."

[where: 55406]

jP American Bistro - Closed

I was saddened when I read this today:
JP’s American Bistro Closed. Tragic.

I don't know anyone who ate there and DIDN'T enjoy it.
I, for one, wanted to kiss the chef the last time we were there.
It couldn't have been the food. The food was so darn tasty.

In Dara's blog, JP is quoted saying:

The construction [endless, at Lake and Lyndale] finally got to us. With the economy, the construction, Minneapolis property taxes—after our first year, because the property had been redone, our taxes went up by three-thousand dollars a month. Nobody had budgeted for that. The construction was supposed to happen in one year, but they came back and started on Lake Street, and at some point you have to cut your losses.


You can read the following statement on the jP website:

We are sorry we have to announce the closing of jP American Bistro after 5 and 1/2 years of serving our community. We want to thank all of the countless people who graced our doors and gave us a chance to serve them. It was a privilege and an honor.

Please stay tuned to our website for future updates. We are sorry we won't be able to serve you this holiday season but for those looking for holiday gatherings contact JP directly.

Once again, from all of staff past and present, thank you for sharing all of your memories, weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, engagements, hopes and dreams. With the deepest repsect, Namaste.

jP, Cheryl and Evie


BOO! I say, BOO!

[where: Minneapolis, JP American Bistro, 55406]

Green Tomatoes Everywhere!

Sure, you can ripen some of them on your windowsill or in a paper bag, but what are you going to do with the rest of those green tomatoes hanging on the vine in your garden??? HMMMM?? What ever will you do with all of them??

Every year, I make big plans for my green tomatoes, but I usually just end up making fried green tomatoes because they're easy to make, and they taste good with marinara, which I make using the ripened tomatoes.

This year, I want to make green tomato pie, yo. I've had it before, and it tasted similar to apple pie. Maybe a green tomato crisp would be easier....and healthier because it has oats in it - right?

[where: 55406]

That Awesome Aria in The Magic Whistle

I remember watching Amadeus as a kid and marveling at the soprano who played the Queen of the Night, June Anderson.

This video is Queen of the Night MADNESS!!! I DIE, just like Rachel Zoe.

PS - Diana Damrau is creepy and awxum.

In Memory of Lois Gould

Kari shivers on the front stoop with two cocktails in her hands as we unload the car for a Christmas at home in Waterford, WI.

"Come on you guys! I'm flipping freeezing standing here!"

We shoulder our backpacks and tins of cookies, leaving the gifts in the trunk for another trip. Stamping the snow off our newly polished shoes, we tumble through the door with a mighty chill and a whole lot of snow.

Gerg kicks off his shoes, drops his bags, thanks Kari and grabs the cocktail from her, and slides on his socks over the hardwood floor toward the living room, knowing grandma will be in her favorite spot near the fireplace.

"Hi Grandma!" as he makes his way past the Christmas tree.

"Oh, Greg!", grandma looks up from her lap, surprised, grinning.

"Merry Christmas, Grandma!"

"I like your hat," she says, smiling. Gerg pops off his stocking cap, showing off his messy spiked hair. We know what to expect next. Grandma makes a motion above her head as though she's spiking her hair. "I like your hair." We all laugh.

"So cute, so cute!" grandma says. Gerg grins and shrugs his shoulders at me. I shake my head and laugh. Gerg's dad cracks a joke about how grandma's vision must not being so good.


Grandma passed away this weekend.
Lois was so darn cheery...she had a way of making her family feel loved and appreciated.

The last time I saw her, she said thank you for our beautiful wedding. She blew her usual kisses from bed, and said, "I love you."

Here's to a woman who said thank you, for everything. Here's to a woman who said "I love you" for no reason, just out of the blue. Here's to a woman who believed in blowing kisses, eating candy, and asking cute doctors if they were married.

She will be missed.

[where: 55406]

Candy Corn Petits Fours

Candy Corn Petits Fours from The Swiss Colony make fall more bearable somehow. CHOMP!

FACT: For years, I have been mysteriously drawn to the marvels contained in the The Swiss Colony catalog.

Last November, I almost broke a heel as I stopped short to have a minor freak out about the Swiss Colony workers in front of Grand Central Station in NYC. Some of them were dressed as reindeer, and they had Swiss Colony hats, mitten, and scarves. I would totally rokk SC mittens.

[where: 55406]

Sweet Metal Drums

Yesterday a colleague told me all about the They Might be Giants show at First Ave on Saturday. I was not envious.

I'm one of those people who gets wikked irritated by They Might be Giants. For instance, I will not play them for my future children in my awesome new Saab for fear I'd irrationally stick a pen in my eye. That would sukk for a number of reasons.

I can pretty much blame an old pal who used to jam They Might be Giants around-da-clock in his station wagon. -------> DZ

When my colleague asked me why I didn't like They Might be Giants, I couldn't put my finger on it, so I said, "I guess in the scheme of things, I like my rock HARD."

Coincidentally, I saw this cartoon this morning, which made me smile. It's how music works in my imagination.

[where: 55406]

Honeycrisp Apple Season is Like Christmas

When I was a kid, I started anticipating Christmas as soon as December 1st hit the calendar. We weren't big into flashy gifts, but I still loved that time of year. Being the youngest of 7 kids, I was always pumped for my brothers and sisters to come home from college for a week to stay up late, play Scrabble, drink nog, make music, and sneak smokes after my parents went to bed.

I hype the annual "Welcome Back" celebration for the Honeycrisp Apple with almost as much pizazz. Ok, ok, my brothers and sisters are cooler than apples....HOWEVER, I scored some Zestar apples at Seward Co-op yesterday, which means Honeycrisps are getting ready to DOMINATE the scene.

I am so friggin pumped for Honeycrisp Apple season. It's just 'round the bend, and we gonna FEAST on Honeycrisps, yo.

[where: 55406]

Getting Your Rummage On

This weekend I'm participating in my first multi-family rummage sale since I've moved to the Twin Cities.

When we arrived last night with our truckload, there were some neat vintage items, kitchen supplies and baby supplies already sorted out. We added to the mix our stereo, snowboard boots, speakers, kitchenware, silk scarves, furniture, my mountain bike, and books. Another load was packed from the recording studio as well.....I saw an electric guitar, drum pedal, and recording goodies in those boxes. It looks like it's gonna be a rad rummage sale. Lots of cool stuff.

I didn't include my treadmill in the lot - I wasn't sure if this was the right time of the year to sell a treadmill. I paid $300 for it 3 years ago, so I'm hoping I can get $100 for it sometime soon.

If you're interested in musical equipment, furniture, vintage items, kitchen supplies, baby clothes, kids toys (for kids or circuit bending), stereo, speakers, or books, check it out:
4137 12th Ave S, 8am-4pm on Sat (9/6) and Sun (9/7).

[where: 55406]

Politician Burger

A trip to The Nook in St. Paul last weekend started with walking through the front door and spotting this sign:

For $6.50 you can get a taste of what the RNC is all about.

[where: 55406]

Totally Totaled

On Monday, I was driving forward through the intersection at Raymond/University in St. Paul. I had a green light, and a guy took a left hand turn and smashed into me. He said he didn't see me. My car is being considered a total loss. No injuries to report except some soreness in my neck and an almost constant headache.
On Tuesday, I dropped my iPhone in the toilet at the state fair. Gerg is experimenting with fixing it, but I've got to admit I'm skeptical. Right now, he's got it buried in clean kitty litter.

I'd like for that to be the end of me totaling things for awhile. Sheesh.

UPDATE: Finally went to the doctor on Friday. That neck pain is a sprained neck. That constant headache is a concussion.

[where: 55406]

Mango Thai: Thai Delight in St Paul

We lunched at Mango Thai in St Paul this week.

Almost immediately, we noticed the similarity between the menus of Mango Thai and our favorite Minneapolis Thai restaurant, Chai's Thai, and our server confirmed that Mango Thai was opened by the same owners as Chai's Thai.

Opened roughly 2 months ago, Mango Thai features most of the same good menu items featured at Chai's Thai: the papaya salad, the Singapore noodles, and the green curry, to name a few. They also offer the same budget-friendly prices.

At Mango Thai, they offer an item not on the menu at Chai's Thai - a mango avocado spring roll, pictured here.

As at Chai's Thai, no beer, wine or booze is served at Mango Thai. However, Mango Thai offers a $0 corkage fee, as does Chai's Thai, so you can bring your own bottle.

The staff is casual and friendly. The atmosphere is similar to Chai's. Small tables, simple but elegant decor. The benches built for maximum seating around the tables were a bit too short for me, but I am short to begin with. For taller patrons, they seemed to be a more suitable height.

If you like Chai's Thai, as I do, then I'm willing to bet you'll like Mango Thai.

Mango Thai Restaurant
610 Selby Ave
St. Paul, MN 55102
Crossroads: Selby & Dale
Phone: 651.291.1414

[where: St Paul, Minneapolis, Twin Cities, 55406]


I attended my first annual Bratstravaganza this weekend, and let me tell you, it was BRAT-tastic.

The theme was, of course, bratwurst.

Our hosts treated us to beer boiled grilled brats, brat kabobs, bratza, and brats in a blanket. Another guest concocted some brat fondue. For the veg heads, meat-free brat versions of the dishes were served as well.

The bratza was a flatbread pizza served with baked brats and caramelized onions, on a crispy and chewy crust.

The brats in a blanket were a home run for me because they were kitschy, and the buttery flavor of the "blanket" was an unexpected pairing with bratwurst.

Spicy brown mustard, saurkraut, and beer boiled onions were the perfect condiments.

The ever-popular debate on "ketchup on brats" continued. Purist say ketchup ain't allowed. Others say ketchup is just fine on bratwurst, and it tastes good. I, myself, say "NAY" to ketchup on bratwurst.

Guess it's time for another super unscientific blog poll.

[where: Minneapolis, MN 55406]

PedalPub: It's All Good in the Hood

MNBeer helped a sister out by posting an update about the PedalPub.

Here's what the friendly, beer-loving site had to say:

"I ran into an alarmed blog post or two (via regarding the PedalPub and it’s fate in Minneapolis. I dropped Al a line to check on this and you’ll be glad to know that the hearing was actually just a meeting to discuss regulating the PedalPub. Al says there are no changes in store for now, and probably nothing until next year. He also mentioned that creating regulations will be a collaboration between the city and the PedalPub that he expects “will go smoothly and professionally.”Fear not pedalers!"

Huzzah! Pedal on!!

[where: 55406]

I'm a taste tester...I'm a taste tester...watchin tests go by.

About six months ago, I started participating on paid, blind taste test panels.

Now, it's not totally random. I had to take prelims in order to qualify, and I've gone through weeks of training to better understand the "complexities of aroma and flavor." Panelists should be able to detect trace amounts of fresh cream, malt, salt, or soy by aroma and flavor. I can now tell the difference between astringency and chalkiness, which I find cool for some reason.

I know! It sounds exciting, but it's not like I get to sample bbq pulled pork or bing cherries everyday.

For instance, for the past 3 months, I've been participating in a blind taste test study in which we scale vanilla flavored nutritional beverages.

Looks appetizing, right!!??? 3-4 days per week, I smell, sip, and spit countless cups of white, milky, vanilla stuff. Not exactly thrilling.

But all of this work has finally paid off, ladies and gentlemen. Because the dream has finally come true..........


...............I've been selected to sit on a CHEESE TASTE TEST PANEL!
That's right. I'm getting paid to eat cheese.


[where: 55406]

The Fate of Minneapolis' PedalPub

I got a note today which made me feel slightly uneasy.

"Minneapolis City Councilwoman Lisa Goodman is beginning hearings on the fate of the PedalPub in Minneapolis this upcoming Monday, August 11 at 2:30pm. "

What's up with that? What's going on with the fate of the PedalPub?? I'm not sure, but I'm writing this blog entry to show my support for the PedalPub.

I'm totally smiling on the PedalPub!

What is the PedalPub?? PedalPub was created in the Netherlands, and Minneapolis is home to the only PedalPub in the United States. It's a huge, 10 person bike with one steering wheel. Your crew makes merry while you all pedal along a designated route. A sober and experienced PedalPub employee steers the rig and is in charge of the brakes. Your crew provides the power and the drinks, snacks, and jams.

Last weekend, we took the PedalPub out along the Nord'East route. We all showed up at the 1029 Bar at 2pm, and received some basic training from the PedalPub employee. We showed our IDs and signed our waivers. Then, we all hopped aboard and started pedaling. It's immediate fun; the sound of the gears whirling, the laughs, the music, the breeze in your hair, and even the pain in your legs as you pedal uphill.

A change to Minnesota State Law effective May 16, 2008 allows passengers aboard the PedalPub to consume alcohol while aboard the PedalPub, which is rad - you can pack a few cold ones for the trip.

We chose to stop at Tony Jaros' River Gardens, Grumpy's NE, and Mayslack's along the way. Our ride lasted about 3 hours with those 3 stops. Spectators waved, hooted, took photos, and smiled at us along the route.

I was able to spend some of gerg's hard earned cash in 3 bars that I've never visited before, but the best part was good times with friends in a little neck of the non-woods.

Note: If you're shorter than 5'5", your feet have a harder time reaching the pedals, and you'll probably end up with a sore rear end. Up to 16 people can ride, but only 10 can pedal, which means you can swap seats if your hind end starts to hurt. *wink*

Interested in helping the PedalPub preserve its future in Minneapolis? Take a moment from your busy day to write to your City Councilwomen Lisa Goodman and Elizabeth Glidden; share with them your positive stories about the PedalPub.

[where: PedalPub, Minneapolis, 55406]

Hiawatha Pizza - Pizza in our Hood

As it turns out, when you have an unknown object jammed in the bottom of your foot, and you can't walk very well, you might not have the desire to go out for a nice dinner - even though it is a Friday night, and your husband has offered you a killer date.

Instead, with sharp pains in your foot, you walk out of the Minnehaha/Lake Street Target, and notice Hiawatha Pizza, next to Cub, and you say, "Let's try that place."

As we walked in to Hiawatha Pizza, we peeped the "Soda and a Slice for $2.99" sign. We were greeted by the owner, who (I believe, but am not positive) introduced himself as Assam. He asked us if we'd ever been there before. We said "no." He offered us a trial slice of his New York style cheese pizza on the house, urging, "Try my pizza."

Assam explained from the window, "I came from New York. I've been a pizza man for 20 years."

After the sample, we decided to order a fresh pie, and we liked the pie, overall. We waited for about 20 minutes for the pie. The pizza wasn't earth shattering, but it was decent. The fresh pie was better than the slice.

Assam explained to us that Hiawatha Pizza doesn't offer sausage on the menu because he is trying to serve up pizza that is conscientious of his Halal customers. He does offer ground beef, chicken, and pepperoni, but no sausage.

Now, I won't claim to be a New York style pizza expert. I've had it a few times on 2 trips to NYC, and I do love it. The best part of Hiawatha Pizza's pizza, to me, was the crust, which was perfectly fold-able. It flopped slightly when I picked up the slice from my plate, but it wasn't super floppy. The sauce was tangy and dense.

As far as toppings go, I recommend trying the roasted garlic as a topping. Big, roasted chunks! 4 EVA! The mushrooms were canned, which I don't usually like for pizza (except for once in awhile) - I didn't like these mushrooms. We also had chicken on our pizza; it was unremarkable.

I'm pretty sure they deliver, but they didn't have a menu to go, and they don't have a web page.

Hiwatha Pizza
2740 Minnehaha Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55406
(612) 455 6944

[where: 55406]

Reetsy's Must-See List - Made In Queens

There's this guy who rides his bike around our neighborhood rocking a boom box in a five gallon bucket on his shoulder; he blasts hip hop with heavy bass.

It always makes me smile. And I always pause to appreciate the awesomeness while smiling.

This crew in Queens takes it to a whole 'nother level. It's seriously off the chain.

Check out the awesomeness of the tricked out BMX bikes Made in Queens.

I've got to catch this film.

Let's Grind! But not with Vegetarians.

Due to our totally awesome marriage, we are now the proud owners of a meat grinder.

And you can bet your bottom dollar that I am ready to grind!

I can just hear my brother now, "Wait a minute. Weren't you a vegetarian, like, a year ago?? And now you're grinding meat???"

To that I say, "Dude. I'm gonna go grind me some meat while you fret over my inconsistencies."

My favorite meats, since knocking the vegetarian monkey off my back, have all been sausages. Therefore, I'm thinking I'll start out by grinding pork for some fresh spicy Italian sausage.

Is anyone out there using a meat grinder? Hit me with some solid tips!!

Postscript - I still want to cook with you, vegetarians, cuz I *heart* you, even if you don't eat pork sausage.

[where: 55406]

Smack Fest, Twin Cities

Why, oh why, isn't there a Smack Fest in the Twin Cities??!?!?!

I'd be SO DOWN for reprazenting Minneapolis!

Mix On, Mix Off - Longfellons Want to Know!

The rumors running through our neighborhood about the former Molly Quinn's space and the possible opening of a new Thom Pham joint have had our heads spinning this past year.

On then off. Off then on. And so on.

The talk ceased temporarily, but recently, I read a comment on Zimmern's Chow & Again blog AND this piece by Nancy Ngo, both of which indicate that it's on.

"Thom Pham is playing it safer at his next restaurant venture. After recently closing his 1-year-old contemporary/hip Temple in Minneapolis, the restaurateur says his next project will be half trendy, half traditional.

Pham had planned to open an Asian fusion place called Mix in the former Molly Quinn's on Lake Street in Minneapolis.

Now, he has given the Lake Street project a tweak. This time, Mix will occupy only half of the space. The other half will become Thanh Do, a spinoff of Pham's traditional Asian restaurant in St. Louis Park.

'It's about still giving people high-quality food,' says Pham, who hopes to open before the end of the year. 'But making it more affordable.'

Meanwhile, Pham has finished remodeling Anemoni, his sushi restaurant next door to his fusion restaurant, Azia, on 26th Street and Nicollet Avenue in Minneapolis. The menu also got an update."

[where: Longfellow, Minneapolis, MN 55406]

Deez Nutz: A Bedtime Story

As told by someone on the internet, and then retold by Reetsy.........

Once upon a time, Dr. Dre was kickin' it Kansas City.
Dr. Dre was hungry, so he rolled in to the McDonald's drive thru.
He overheard a crucial conversation go down between the teller and the stooges in the car in front of him.

Stooge: "Yes, I hear the McRib is back. I'd like one of those with a milk."
Teller: "Is that all?"
Stooge: "Yes, and please add the Deez to that order, with a milk again."
Teller: "The what??"
Stooge:"The deez..."
Teller: "DEEZ???"

Dr. Dre thought this ish was HILARIOUS, so he picked it up and used it in a rhyme.

And the DEEZ NUTS prank lived happily ever after.

Comic pulled from Married to the Sea: the champage of comics.

[where: 55406]

Our Minimoon in Stillwater

Folks have been asking about our honeymoon.
Truth is, we didn't really have a honeymoon, yo.
We're waiting until the frigid winter hits, and then we're heading to the Bahamas. Major.

Instead, we had a minimoon! 3 days and 2 nights in Stillwater, MN.
There are scads of places outside of the Twin Cities I haven't explored yet. Stillwater was a first for me.

It was pretty much a last minute decision. A colleague recommended a getaway there the Wednesday before our wedding, and we headed there the Monday after the wedding.

We packed one backpack, strapped it to the back of the motorcycle and headed off to Stillwater on a sunny July afternoon. The weather was brilliant. So was the smoochin.

Riding the motorcycle over the lift bridge
Our cRaZy decked out "vault suite" at the Water Street Inn
Nacho Mama's nachos and big drinks
Sampling Schell's Freight House Pilsner, brewed exclusively for the Freight House Restaurant.

I wore green the whole time to celebrate my newly gained Irish heritage.

Check out our pics from our minimoon.

[where: Stillwater, Minnesota, Water Street Inn]

Reetsy Reviews: Batter Blaster

On a sunny weekend morning in June at a cabin in Amery, WI, we finally did it.

We. Rokked. Batter Blaster.

What is Batter Blaster?

"With its unique, pressurized, patent pending process, Batter Blaster™ makes organic light and fluffy pancakes and light and crisp waffles in minutes! And while breakfast is the most important meal of the day, it’s also the most skipped meal. Batter Blaster is fast, easy and fun for the whole family. Batter Blaster makes breakfast a blast!"

Could batter blaster be the ultimate cure for cabin hangovers??

gerg found the Batter Blaster during an all important brat bun run to a grocery store in Amery, WI. He immediately grabbed the can and said, "Let's make Batter Blaster for breakfast tomorrow!!"

Batter Blaster doesn't blast dawg; it oozes out of the can, like Cheez Whiz.

Gerg discovered that it's better to swirl the batter blaster in circles for optimal evenness. Note the butter. You must butter your pan.

He even added blueberries!

They were totally A BLAST!!

Actually, they totally tasted like prepackaged pancakes. They were edible and crucial for people who might have had too much crunk juice on da boat the day before. *wink* However, we all concurred that while it's rad that it's organic, it's a total waste of packaging. We were trying to decide if the packaging defeated the purpose of it being organic, but we got distracted by trashy magazines.

Check out this video of Batter Blaster oozing in action!

Originally uploaded by gergistheword

[where: Amery, Wisconsin, Batter Blaster]