Saturday, February 28, 2009

What's Up With Being Up?

It's not quite 4 in the afternoon as I write this, which means I've been awake for about 12 hours. I'm not really sure why I was awake at 4 this morning. I tried my best to go back to sleep (usually an easy task for me), but eventually got out of bed around 4:45 and moved to the living room to watch some TV. 

I did get about a 30-minute nap this afternoon, but I definitely feel like I'm jetlagged. I kind of want to blame the fact that I've now cleared the driveway of snow four times since this time on Thursday, but I suspect being tired is more about getting up 3 hours earlier than usual than it is about the snow. After all, with the tons of snow and bright sunlight, you'd think I'd be overly energized!

Luckily, all we're doing tonight is going over to a friend's place to watch movies and eat popcorn (one of my absolute favorite dinners!). Assuming we don't turn all the lights down, I should be able to stay awake for that. And if not... well... at least we're all friends.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Stuck in a Rut

I know that, frequently, the phrase in the title is meant figuratively. Today, however, it could go both ways. 

On the one hand, I do feel a bit stuck in a rut. I'm sure many people would say the same thing at this time of year. It's not spring, yet, but winter has lost it's luster, and we all need a change of pace. Of course, with my current "working from home" status, I seem to be feeling it more than usual. Don't worry -- I have some plans to take care of that in the near future with a trip home to visit my parents. Nothing like a few days completely removed from your own reality to get your mind cleared and ready for more!

On the other hand, this evening Christopher and I found ourselves literally stuck in a rut on our way home from dinner out with a couple of cousins. We had chosen a little place not far from home because we were looking for someplace we hadn't been which was also... well... cheap. Although we've gotten 5 or so inches of snow since about Noon, the place is on a main thoroughfare, so we knew we'd all be able to get there. As we pulled up, Christopher kind of had to gun the engine to get from the street into the parking lot (which had yet to see a plow of any kind). The parking lot was a little slick, too. It's something about the density of the snow that was neither fluffy nor compacted, just somewhere right in the middle where it makes for perfectly awful walking and driving conditions.

We went inside and met up with our cousins and had a nice enough dinner of burgers and fries, and about an hour later (now about 7:15) we got up to leave. The parking lot was -- obviously -- even snowier than before. As Christopher backed out of the parking space, we kind of got wedged between the various ruts other people had made. With some pushing (always a good thing to go out in a group this time of year!), we got free and drove forward. We were almost out to the street when the car high-centered on the berm of snow left behind by the plows. 

Christopher and I tried to get it out. He tried to rock the car back and forth. I tried to push. But it wasn't until we'd gathered a crowd of 5 other pushers and scooped most of the snow from around the front tires that we finally got it moving. The area we left was completely leveled off where the car had been. And our tires had made perfect indentations where they'd been spinning. And spinning. And... well... you get the picture. 

Yeah. No matter how you mean it, being stuck in a rut is never fun. 

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Once More Before the Snow Flies

It's a gorgeous day outside. The sun is just going down and it's about 5:30, already. Amazing what a few weeks do this time of year! It was even up to almost 40 degrees today, which is -- finally -- above average for this time of year. 

Of course, as the title of this post suggests, this is not a weather pattern that is expected to stick around. I've just watched a weather forecast which stated that we're supposed to get about 6 inches of snow tomorrow, and the next time we get up to 32 degrees is predicted for sometime next week. And, as the snow falls, we're expecting the Paperwhites are about to tumble, as well. 

So, with that in mind, here are a few final shots of them from the past couple of days. A reminder as we go through these, that I only put the bulbs in rocks and poured water on them 13 days ago. 

First... pictures from a day or two ago:

(Can you see the string in the middle? We had to tie two of the 14-inch stems to a chopstick to keep them upright.)

(The top of the plant that is in the vase by itself.)

Oh... And one shot of the roots going down into the vase. (I admit that I've been geeking out over the science side of watching these grow!)

And a final shot of the large bunch from today. Have I mentioned that I was expecting these to look more like standard daffodils? The fact that each of the stems is topped with about 10 blooms which each looks like a one-inch wide daffodil has been absolutely amazing. 

Of course, one of the best things about these is that they're "recyclable." Once they die back, I've been told to let them dry out, put them in a paper bag in a dry, dark place, and then wait about 6 months and start them all over again (although probably without the endless blogging about them). How cool is that? 

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Amazing Race 14

As this is Travel Tuesday, and as I haven't gone more than about 5 miles from home in the past week, I decided it was time to talk about the new season of CBS's The Amazing Race.

I know that it's not for everyone, but I absolutely love the show. It's the only so-called "reality" show which I watch with any regularity. And everyone I know knows not to bother me while it's on, because I'm bound to be pacing back and forth across the floor while I'm watching it.

Why does this reality/game/competition show keep me watching when so many others bore the heck out of me? Because people win or lose on The Amazing Race based almost entirely on their own smarts and luck. This isn't a competition where plotting and backstabbing takes place on a weekly basis. Instead, it's simply a team against team sprint to the finish of each leg. (In fact, the one season where a team did try to plot and plan to win, they lost in the final leg. If that's not karma, I'm not sure what is.) 

Okay... There's also the fact that the scenery is gorgeous, which doesn't hurt. 

As for this season... The first episode found all 11 teams trying to carry 20-pound wheels of cheese down a hill in Switzerland. This week's episode included teams throwing cakes at each other in Germany. Both were quite funny to watch, but would have been frustrating as all-get-out to complete. 

** sidenote ** Although many of my friends have suggested I should try to get onto the show, I could never do it. Between the physical exertion and the flat-out frustration levels at some points... well... I'd be a wreck by leg #3. On the other hand, if there could be a "follow in the footsteps of The Amazing Race" tour, which you could do at your own speed, I'd be all over that, because some of the things they get to do are... well... amazing. ** end sidenote **

But, even more importantly, the best moments of the two episodes were the "ohmigosh" moment or two during these legs of the race when we found the teams enjoying the world they were covering. In this week's episode, time was taken to look out the window of a tram to enjoy the scenery of "fairytale" Bavaria. It was breathtakingly beautiful, and although this was a race to the finish, enjoying the journey was somehow just as good as coming in first. 

Okay. Coming in first is probably better on a competition show. But coming in first after having taken time to enjoye the race is probably best. 

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Sunday Paper(whites)

Alright, I fully realize that we're coming to the end of the interest in the Paperwhites, but as this is a Sunday evening, I've got The Amazing Race to watch, and the Oscars to watch (when I'm not watching The Amazing Race), so I'm opting for more flower photos. 

And, really, it's been a huge change in the past 2 days, so it IS kind of fun.

Here is the bowl of Paperwhites yesterday:

And here it is today:

Can you believe so much change happened in one day? The bowl actually sits under a chandelier, and the flowers truly changed over the course of about 6 hours yesterday evening. Nature can be kind of amazing.

Oh. And I got this great close-up of the single stem coming up out of the vase:

I now return you to your regularly-scheduled nail-biting. 

Or -- if you're having a calm and quiet Sunday evening, I now leave you so that I can return to my regularly-scheduled nail-biting...

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Snowy Day

We had about 4 inches of snow between yesterday afternoon and this morning. I almost have to say that I like it, because if it's going to be as cold as it's been (about 10 degrees below average this week), it might as well be pretty out. Basically, that's the same way I feel in November and December, but this time of year it's good to have the visual reminder that I'll need a coat and hat when I go out the door. 

I'm also happy that it snowed a decent amount because I got to use the snow blower, which I bought gas for after the last storm. Not a big deal (only about a gallon or so), but I already mixed in the oil that the snow blower requires, and I don't want to have to store it over the summer in the garage. So today I was actually excited when the snow blower ran out of gas as I was clearing the front walk. 

Of course, I was even more excited that Christopher made us a breakfast of peppered bacon and cheddar cheese omelettes (and he actually does the "rolled" version of an omelette, where I just scramble everything). The bacon is some amazing stuff that we've found at our favorite little niche gourmet store, The Golden Fig, in St. Paul. It's a fairly thick-cut bacon with serious amounts of black pepper on the edges. Served with the creaminess of the cheesy omelette and a large glass of cold milk, this was a great way to face the day.

Alright, so no one will accuse us of having a healthy breakfast, obviously, but with the weather and the snow clearing and house cleaning... well... sometimes you deserve it, right?

(I should mention that the Paperwhites are beginning to pop. By tomorrow - Monday at the latest - I should have more photos!)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Orchid Update

I wanted to give you a look at how our Orchid has been progressing. And, as of last Saturday, we now have a new grower in the house: a dozen Paperwhite bulbs which we're forcing. 

First, the orchids. Remember how we had just one bloom open and five or six more buds? Well, now we're up to three full blooms and three more buds! It's amazing, just look at it:

(Can you see the three blooms and the three buds a little farther along the spike? If not, check the next picture...)

Now, as for the Paperwhites... I brought home the bulbs for Valentine's Day because Christopher likes white flowers and, with my current financial situation, I couldn't exactly spring for a dozen of any kind of flower before a holiday like that. So I went to our local garden store and bought a bunch of the bulbs. When I picked them up to bring them home, they were simply brown little balls with about a one-inch white/green growth on the top. (Honestly, they looked like fat little cartoon geese!)

The information that came with them said that, in cool temps (60-64 degrees - perfect in our house in winter), with a little water, they should bloom within two or three weeks. I was pretty skeptical, since this is the first time I've ever forced flowers from "scratch." But, at just a week after they were first watered (last Thursday), they're going gangbusters. Well... Just look at how they looked yesterday:

(I love that one sitting atop a pile of rocks in a vase of mine!)

Because of the cut crystal, you can't really see the roots pushing down through the rocks in the water. I have to tell you, though, that it's a cool enough biology experiment that even I've been fascinated by it on a daily basis!

(These are the other 11 of them in a James Loso Pottery bowl.) (I'm okay with giving him free advertising since he's sort of a cousin of mine.)

You'll notice that, although I "planted" them with rocks coming about halfway up the sides, as they've pushed down with their roots the bulbs have come out of the rocks. I'm a little worried that they might topple, but they seem to be doing okay so far. I'm guessing they know what they're doing....

Oh. And in case you're wondering how much they change in a day or so, here is a picture of the same bowl today (about 36 hours after the above picture was taken):

So, yeah, we may be having a brand new cold snap this week (a reminder from Mother Nature that spring is a while off, yet), but the house is already blooming. It's grand.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


There are those things from childhood which just show up from time to time and make you smile. Take, for instance, the pink frosting hearts I talked about a couple of days ago. Or the dessert I made to take when Christopher and I went to play cards with friends tonight: cupcakes with sprinkles. 

The people we were visiting are "foodies" (which, I guess, Christopher and I are, as well), and they were preparing snacks while we brought dessert. I did some serious contemplation, going through lists of menu items in my head, and finally went downstairs into the "auxiliary pantry" to see what we had on hand. What jumped out first was a boxed Devil's Food cake mix and a tub of white frosting, with Valentine's Day sprinkles. I'm not sure why, but that's what sounded good. 

I brought that option upstairs, along with 2 others, and presented them all to Christopher for his input. He says that I looked like a very excited three-year-old when I said "And we have sprinkles!" and then he agreed that cupcakes would be the best option. (I suspect there was some amount of humoring me going on, but I'm okay with that.)

So, tonight, we arrived at our destination and even from the hallway could smell the aromas of amazing food inside. As we settled in around the table for an evening of conversation and games, the table became crowded with plates of the "few snacky things." There was hummus with crackers; bruschetta with a garlic-y spread, greens and thinly-sliced red onion; and meatballs with cilantro and ginger and sesame oil skewered with crisp snow pea pods. And there was enough to make this a full dinner. (Yes. It was just four of us. Yes. It was a "casual snacky" event. And, yes. It was over the top even for them. Luckily, our bewilderment was lessened when it was explained that our hosts are beginning to try out recipes for a wedding they'll be catering in a few months.)

For a few moments, I was a little nervous about the dessert we had brought. But then we popped the top off of our Tupperware and when the cupcakes came into view the first comments we heard were "I love cupcakes!" and "Ohhh. Sprinkles!"

Before we left, there was a trade-off of the leftovers. Christopher and I came home with bruschetta, and we left the remaining cupcakes behind. Well... Not all of the remaining cupcakes... We still have some here at home which didn't travel with us. After all, sometimes you have to keep a few sprinkles for yourself (and your inner child), too. 

Monday, February 16, 2009

Karma du Jour

I know I've mentioned the topic of Karma before (see my posting from September 21st), but today was a day when it came up again. 

I had been out running errands and was on my way home when there was some traffic and I was on a street that was backed up with cars. There was a minivan trying to cross the street from my side, and so I came to a stop prior to the intersection and let the minivan edge into traffic and cross. It was a simple thing. Easy. Took nothing from me, and didn't even slow me down, since I was still a good block away from the red light at the intersection I was headed for. Honestly, I wasn't even hoping for good karma from it. But...

I decided to pull in for a cheap lunch at Taco Bell (shh... don't tell Christopher, he's not a Taco Bell fan...), and had a nice interaction with the woman behind the counter. When I was leaving, I remembered why I never go to that Taco Bell: the parking lot is nigh impossible to get out of. That same traffic I had been stuck in before had expanded. Now it was filling both lanes heading westbound, and the back-up was at least two or three blocks. I eased up to the edge of the parking lot, and figured I'd be waiting for a while. Out of the blue, a guy in a red mid-sized sedan slowed down and waved me out. I spun the steering wheel and cranked myself into the lane and waved my thanks as I pulled out. 


Now... Remember the first time I wrote about karma? I talked about buying one of the supermarket foodshelf bags last fall for $5, figuring that it was just as easy to do that as it was for me to buy myself lunch at McDonald's. Well, I did that again today, simply because I keep hearing how empty the foodshelf shelves are these days. Then, on the way home, I decided to splurge on a $4 lunch at the above-mentioned Taco Bell with the karmic parking lot. Both of those purchases could probably be considered fairly frivolous and completely out-of-budget for someone who is still job-searching on a daily basis, but one of them made me feel... well... "normal" while the other one made me feel better. 

Karma. It does a body good. 

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Pink Frosting Hearts

There are two things I think of when I think of Valentine's Day when I was a kid. 

One of those things is the whole school-time Valentine's parties. I remember going out and finding just the right assortment of cards. I had a big class in grade school, so I had to get a big enough box -- usually the kind with 40 "student" cards and 2 "teacher" cards -- so that meant they weren't always the "cool" ones. Usually it was the semi-generic ones (no major cartoon characters or anything, but since this was the 1970s, that wasn't a big deal), and they all had pictures and sayings on them like a picture of a great big bumblebee saying "Bee Mine." I remember painstakingly writing out everyone's names and putting one piece of candy (a hard sugar heart or the like) into each envelope before sealing them. And at school there was the morning event of getting to decorate a "mailbox" by cutting a slit in the top of a shoebox and pasting cut-out paper hearts all over it. Then, during the party, people could come by and drop their cards into your mailbox and you could open them when  you got home. (In some small way, I think the idea of taking them home was smart -- that way the rest of the class didn't find out how few/how many cards you got or from whom...) 

Hmmm... I may have to go out and buy some of those candy conversation hearts today... But, I digress...

The other thing I remember from growing up were the sugar cookies my mom would make and decorate with pink frosting hearts. The cookies themselves were a thick sugar cookie -- not the kind you roll and cut out -- and they stood quite well on their own. But at Valentine's Day, they got the extra embellishment of the frosting in the shape of a heart. All the way through college, I would receive those cookies in the mail for Valentine's Day, and although my friends would start by raising an eyebrow, they always enjoyed the cookies, too.

These days we're all more calorie conscious. And schools have to be more careful and politically correct when it comes to "forcing" children to give Valentines to their classmates. Even so, this year when it came time for me to send a February care package to my nephew (a freshman in college), I made cookies and frosted them. Although... Since he's just joined a fraternity, I didn't want to embarrass him with pink frosting hearts, so I made heart-shaped cookies, but frosted them in blue (one of the fraternity's colors). 

** sidenote ** Without any prior notice about this posting, my parents sent Christopher and me a Valentine's Day care package this week. It didn't contain cookies (there was peanut brittle for me and fudge for Christopher), but my card in it was a Valentine with pictures of candy conversation hearts on it. Hmmm... Do you think my folks know me pretty well? ** end sidenote **

Oh. Don't worry. I also kept a few of the cookies. They are in the kitchen in all of their pink-frosted glory for Christopher and me to eat. After all, you really just can't beat pink frosting hearts. 

Thursday, February 12, 2009

A World of Words

No. This isn't another post waxing rhapsodic about another of my networking meetings. This is all about a movie I went to this afternoon: Inkheart.

Inkheart only hit the movie theaters 2 or 3 weeks ago, and is already down to only one showing per day at any theater where you can find it. And, having seen it this afternoon, I have to say that that is really too bad. 

Here's the basic idea of the movie: Some guy reads a story aloud to his daughter, and as he reads things come to life out of it. Unfortunately, for each person that comes out of a story, someone has to go in. Years ago, he lost his wife this way when 3 bad guys came out, and he's been searching for a way to get her back ever since.

It's a simple enough idea, really, based in a series of "children's" books by Cornelia Funke (not quite sure that's the author's real name, but it's on the books and in the movie credits). And I went to the movie fully expecting it to be a nice little romp with Brendan Fraser in another kid-friendly adventure movie. Mostly it was that. But...

It's also a rather complex story which includes a great-aunt (played by the marvellous Helen Mirren), a fire juggling thief (Paul Bettany), the original thief from the tales on which Aladdin is based, and Toto (yes, they brought in the little dog, too). The dad is a "book doctor" and one of the most terrifying moments in the movie is the destruction of a library filled with one-of-a-kind books. Nothing run-of-the-mill kids' adventure movie in that!

There are villainous villains, but there are also people who may only be bad because that's how the author portrays them (the street thief is a good guy, for instance). On it's surface this is an adventure movie focused on family and fantasy. But, underneath that, there is an amazing love for books. You see, without the story being read--not simply told, but truly read--nothing comes to life. 

Beyond that, though, there is a true appreciation of where books can take you. The books in this movie truly do speak to the characters. We hear them whispering in a bookshop and in a library. And we know that the people who come from the pages have more story than the author gives us, because their worlds are evolving even when the pages are closed. 

I left the theater wondering where I could buy the books and wanting to know more about the characters. It's been a while since I felt that way about a movie and it's source material. 

Sadly, this belief in the power of books and the imaginations they inspire may be a dwindling one. There were only 9 people watching Inkheart today. 

Oh. Right. Movie review. Umm... 

Action and adventure for the whole family? Yes. Great moments with Helen Mirren riding a unicorn? Yes. Overall? A (Okay. If you didn't guess by now, I really liked it. You should go see it.)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Christopher and I both enjoy having fresh flowers in the house. We're not worried about expensive flowers or big bouquets, we just like having the flowers around. Roses are lovely, but so are tulips. Irises are nice, too. Daisies and carnations are fine. We just like flowers. 

I'm not sure when that started for Christopher, but for me the desire to have flowers in the house--while instilled by my mom--really kicked in when I spent 9 months living in Paris between college and grad school. I was working as a teaching assistant, so there weren't many luxuries I could afford, but fresh flowers were relatively inexpensive. They were also available on pretty much every corner and outside every market. So they became my every-so-often splurge. 

When I lived in Baltimore, I had the fun of experiencing the Claymore Sieck wholesale florist. They're open to the public, and you go into the cold rooms and choose your own flowers from all of the boxes and bundles. Dozens of dozens of longstem roses in every color are piled next to cartons of multi-colored carnations. Alstroemeria and irises share rooms with lilies and orchids. The first time I tentatively walked into Sieck's was disconcerting--I'd never been somewhere like that where you had to serve yourself from start to finish (except for cashing out, obviously). But I learned to love the act of plunging through the plastic dividers into the cold rooms and finding the treasures on the other side. Eventually I came to consider it one of my favorite places in all of Baltimore. It wasn't the easiest place for me to get to, but for all of the parties I had at my apartment, I always found my way to get fresh flowers. 

In the middle of winter in Minneapolis--even during the weird warm and rainy days we've been having--flowers seem to promise spring. I haven't found a wholesaler to go dig around in, but the grocery stores have bundles of flowers, and we live near a couple of florists, as well. And at the end of last week Christopher brought home a bundle of budding tulips which, over the past few days, have opened to become a richly multi-faceted orange. 

Although, rationally, I know that we're a month or so from tulips poking through the ground outside, having this touch of spring in the house is wonderful. 

Monday, February 9, 2009

I Am Just That Into It

I know I should be going to Oscar-worthy films this time of year, but I just got back from the movie "He's Just Not That Into You," and I have to admit that I really liked it. 

It has an indy-film feel to it - a lot of little movies all playing out on their own, with just the slightest overlap of characters. (Some actors apparently never even saw each other during the filming, simply because the storylines didn't connect.) And, in creating those micro-universes, it also gave the feeling of the reality of extended friendships, as well as the way we all have "friends-in-law" who are only connected to each other through friends. (You know, like your real in-laws, who you only know because of your spouse...)

The most constant player in the movie is a young woman named Gigi who keeps believing every guy who says "I'll call" and then she gets completely heartbroken. Gigi, while... well... stalking a guy at a bar, meets Alex who is both a bartender and a guy who isn't afraid to tell her what the guys she's dating actually mean (as opposed to what they say). 

Through those two characters we meet the other players: A woman who is finding that she and her husband are falling apart. That same husband who stumbles into a relationship with the woman in front of him at the Handy Mart. Then there's the bartender's friend who places a real estate ad with an unlucky-in-love ad rep at a gay weekly magazine (she has her own Greek chorus of three gay co-workers who have some great one-liners). Finally there is the unmarried couple who are friends with the married couple, but seem to be more committed than anyone else. 

Got all that?

Basically, here's the deal: People looking for love. People searching for happy endings. People not always getting what they're looking for. 

Broadly, here's the rest of the deal: I can't imagine any people going to the movie and not laughing out loud as they recognize themselves... or... I mean... "their friends" in what is going on on the screen. 

Along with some great one-liners, there are also a bunch of inserted segments between sections of the movie (kind of like the things that happen in front of a curtain between acts of a stage show). These are populated with great people telling their own stories. And they are not to be missed. But, then, neither are any of the folks populating the universe these characters live in:

There's a set of sisters and their dysfunctional marriages all hanging around after their father has a wedding-related heart attack. There are all of the construction workers renovating a row home - but not smoking. There's the waiter in the bar who can't understand why his striped and spattered shirt isn't considered "black." And although we don't meet him, there's an older guy in a boat just one dock over who is very nice and happy to offer you a white wine spritzer. And, well, I enjoyed meeting every one of them.

Expect this to be the hot Valentine's Day date movie of the year? No - it's too realistic. Go to it expecting to laugh out loud and maybe even get a little teary by the time it's done? Yes. So just go. (Well... unless you have to go to one of the Oscar-nominated flicks...)

Overall rating: A- (It gets the minus because it's supposedly set in Baltimore, but aside from one or two exterior shots and the use of Clipper City ale, they didn't do anything with the city - not even having any of the couples call each other "hon." And that was just wrong.)

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Misery Loves Company (Sorta)

Last night I spent much of my evening at a networking event. Well... Loosely considered it's a networking event. Really, it's a group of between 20 and 80 people who get together on a monthly basis for a potluck dinner and 2 or 3 hours of conversation.

Most of the talk is the usual smalltalk centered around current events... weather... politics... whatever. But, in this group, when the talk turns to "How's your work?" the conversation is decidedly different from most cocktail parties I've gone to.

You see, most of the people in this group are writers. Sure, there are some illustrators and graphic designers in the group, but the predominant demographic is self-employed writers. So if someone turns to you and says "What do you do?" and you say "I'm a writer" (which is usually enough to stop people from asking more questions), in this group the volley comes back to you in the form of another question, such as: "What kind?" or "What are you working on?"

Last night the evening was filled with people talking about novels they've just had published, and books of essays they're working on. And, to some level of relief for me, people who have been freelancing for a long time were saying that they were just beginning to see an upturn in the markets, after long doldrums. That is where my misery loved being in the company of all these folks. 

I love being in the midst of people who are making--or attempting to make--a living in the world of words. Just knowing that it might be possible kinda makes even the most miserable employment situation a little more lovable.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Giving Equal Time

We are finally getting our January thaw. It's a week late, but I'm not about to complain when the weather forecasters are all saying that we're supposed to have 4 or 5 days in a row at or above 30 degrees. Instead, I thought I'd give the warm weather equal time.

Today I celebrated the warm turn by going out and running a couple of errands while wearing something other than one of my massive winter coats. 

** sidenote ** I've been noticing, lately, that people in this part of the world dress - and look - incredibly androgynous this time of year. I was watching someone cross the street in front of me today, and with hat and scarf and boots and big puffy coat, I had no idea if it was a man or woman. This doesn't seem to happen in "warmer" parts of the country because people can wear stylish coats and hats and shoes, because stylish clothing tends to be more gender-specific. I think that's one of the weird things about living in this part of the country: Not even knowing whether your about to hit a man or a woman who is being an idiot walking in front of your car. ** end sidenote **

In fact, I even went so far as to shovel a bunch of snow onto one of our small garden plots. It's in a corner near the house and garage, and gets a lot of sun, so the snow is all gone, there. Since the ground is packed with bulbs right there, I don't want them to think it's warm enough to come up. So I covered them with snow. Kind of a reverse of covering plants with blankets in the fall. 

Equally exciting is that the second of possibly seven buds on our orchid has begun to open. Now we have one fully open flower and one half-open, with hopes for even more as we go along. My camera is not digital, and is getting old, but I took the following photo of the first bloom last week:

Wow... That's really blurry... sorry... Just imagine the flower looking really clear and delicate, and you'll get the idea of what it was like to see the first bloom open. Now, imagine what it's like to have one open bloom and see the next bud in line looking like that. Can you see why it kind of feels like waiting for spring? It's cool. Err... warm...?

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Going to the East Side

Alright, so going to the East side of the country isn't all that major when it simply means a drive across the Mississippi River from Minneapolis to St. Paul, but Christopher and I just got back from dinner at one of our favorite pizza places: Grandpa Tony's on Snelling (I'd link to a website, but I can't find one...?).

It's a small place, and when I lived closer to it I would order delivery pizza from there instead of going to eat in. But since we were driving past it tonight, we just stopped in for dinner. 

The only waitress we saw for the evening was named Michelle (or at least that's what I think the receipt said on it), and she was great. Very friendly, but also quick and efficient. We were their first seated table for the night, but she handled the other two tables (both families) as quickly as she had dealt with us. 

And the pizza... well... it's AMAZING. Maybe a tad greasy--not dripping, just a little greasier than I would usually choose. That is the only bad thing I could ever say about it. It also has a perfect amount of cheese, a just-slightly-spicy tomato sauce, and even on our "regular" pepperoni pizza, there was more pepperoni than you usually get on a pizza when you order double pepperoni. And the crust... Oh... The crust... It's cracker-thin, and the edges kind of flake apart if you're not careful. (Apparently they do other crust styles, but the thin is SO good I can't imagine trying one of the others!)

We ordered a large and packed up less than a quarter of it to bring home with us. 

Definitely worth travelling "East" for!