Sunday, December 12, 2010


We made it. We're moved in. Although a lot of what we own is still sitting in boxes. We've moved to Southern Minnesota. About 1400 people inhabit the town we currently reside in. Neither of us have ever lived this rurally. We're figuring out the ins and outs of living in a really small town. Like how you need to plan ahead and how you might have to drive anywhere between nine to fifty miles to get what you need. It's a learning curve.

Here's a lesson we learned today: Just because the snow stopped falling doesn't mean you have the right to drive on the roads.

You see we had a major blizzard yesterday.

Outside our apartment window.

But we figured that since the sun was shining today, we could just hop on the major highway and head up to the next town that's home to a cafe we discovered last week (more on the cafe in another post). We got there through blowing snow and drifts and had a scrumptious breakfast. But we learned that the roads were officially closed due to the blowing snow and that if you're caught driving, it could cost you about $1000.00. Ummm...oops. So, after breakfast we headed straight back home and are staying put until the authorities say "move!".

And apparently out here snow blowers are for namby-pambys.

This is what we saw shoveling some driveways...

They don't play around up here. They tackle the snow like nobody's business.

Oh, and the Metrodome collapsed. Oh noz!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

On The Move....

Lots of stuff going on.

Jonathan got a job!!!

But not in the Twin Cities.

So, we're moving again.

Same state...different town.

We're in the middle of throwing everything into the moving truck.

There will be blog silence until we get internet in the new place.

We hope that everyone had a great turkey day.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

I Spy: Snow!

Here in Minneapolis we enjoyed a brief Indian Summer with temperatures rising into the low 70's the week of November 7th. While we enjoyed one last bike ride, the forecast called for the first snow storm of the season that weekend, and within three days the prediction had come true.

Waking up Saturday morning we were greeted by the first herald of Winter, a bountiful snowfall covering the landscape.

It fell fast, and thick, with lots of humidity in the air causing it to clump to power lines and trees that still had leaves from the unseasonably warm summer here. This caused a lot of downed limbs which resulted in power outages for some (but not us).

We received about 8 to 10 inches in about 24 hours, though the city was prepared. The road crews had most of it cleared from the main streets immediately. The news reported that some 1000+ cars had been towed from snow emergency zones and impounded. I got the message - they don't mess around here. Fortunately we have a driveway and didn't need to move the Jeep.

The wet snow made for good packing, so Johari decided to craft a Snowman on the front porch (though really it's a snow-midget).

I took it a step further and when shoveling the drive decided it was easier to just roll the snow out of the way, making a proper snowman in the process.

The snow is still covering the landscape, though in very thin patches. Our snowman has since taken a tumble, but we still have pictures to remember him by.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Truth, Justice, and Pizza!

Nestled in the heart of Minneapolis's Uptown district is an unassuming restaurant where mild mannered employees report every day to deliver truth, justice, and delicious pizza to the citizens of the city.

Step inside the brightly colored business and you immediately know this is not your ordinary pizzeria. Perhaps it was the red and blue glasses the waitress handed you to read your 3D menu, or maybe, just maybe it was the caped crusader who bolted out the back door to deliver a fresh hot pie.

Pictured above: Merman, the Aquatic Delivery Driver

Like the Hall of Justice, or the Fortress of Solitude, Galactic Pizza is home to spandex clad heroes, only these super humans are capable of delivering pizzas faster than a speeding bullet. Well maybe not that fast considering their delivery vehicles are little 3 wheeled electric powered Gizmos.

Pink Thunder delivers good vibes

Saving the world one pizza at a time... not just a motto, but a way of life for the Galactic Pizza founders. Their business model takes sustainability seriously, buying local ingredients for their offerings and running the restaurant on 100% renewable wind energy.

But wait! These aren't REAL heroes - they just deliver pizza... or do they? In a story pulled from the stranger than fiction file things at Galactic Pizza took a turn for the weirder in 2006 when delivery hero "Luke Pie Rocker" chased down and apprehended a purse snatcher after hearing the victim crying for help.

While it's not a requirement that all employees fight crime, every delivery driver develops a heroic persona, complete with uniforms custom made by a local seamstress. Past members of the Pizza League include:
  • The Italian Scallion
  • General Statement
  • Captain Organic
  • The Flying Squirrel
  • and last but not least Captain Awesome

This interview of Captain Awesome provides more secret details about the hero squad behind Galactic Pizza, and his enigmatic, indestructible air guitar.

Aside from the pure pizazz of the packaging, you're probably wondering how the pizza tastes...

Favorite specialty pies include the Paul Bunyan (using ingredients local to Minnesota like Wild Rice, Morel Mushrooms and Buffalo) The Hipster (a Vegan offering whose name is a nod to the many customers that frequent the restaurant) and the Maui Wowie (a spicy spin on a Hawaiian pizza with jalapenos heating up an the otherwise average Canadian bacon and pineapple pie).

"Lights Out" and "The Beast" enjoy fighting crime by the slice.

Let's just say the menu is out of this world, and leave the PUN-ishment at that.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The First Of Many Tiny Specks Of White

We had our first snow yesterday. Now, it was mainly rain with a few flurries that didn't stick, but it most probably, definitely, I'm almost certain heralded the end of warmth for the season.

October turned out to be a dismal month in terms of blogging. Sorry. We were on the road most of last week for interviews (none of which actually led to anything--oh, well). And, of course, we were sick before that.

Hopefully, we'll get back to your regularly scheduled blogging soon. :o)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Peace-filled Beans

We've loved Peace Coffee for a looooong time. And now we live in Peace Coffee's hometown. That means we get to see their fiercely awesome bicycle peddlers on the Greenway all the time and we can find their coffee in almost every co-op and grocery store.

During the summer, we were lucky enough to see the inside of their green manufacturing facility. It happened when we volunteered for this year's Urban Assault Ride. While we were grabbing tables and chairs from their warehouse, I took a quick look around. I think what I liked best about their facility, besides the bicycles hanging from the rafters, was seeing the photographs of the farmers pasted to each of the different coffee storage containers. A daily reminder of who grows what they roast.

Right now, our two favorite beans are the Yeti Cold Press Blend and the Blue Ox Blend, but they have so many great roasts. Seriously, if you love coffee and you love companies with a conscience, you should check them out. Peace! :o)

Friday, October 15, 2010

Sorry For The Delay...

Just a quick post to say we haven't forgotten how to blog. We've been under the weather the last couple of weeks and still haven't completely shaken the bug. Hopefully, we'll be able to explore and blog more soon. At the moment all energy is being reserved for job hunting. :o)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

North Country

A few posts back, we mentioned a trip to North Dakota. For those curious about the area that haven't been to the Peace Garden State, think of North Dakota like Northwest Ohio, specifically Findlay and Bowling Green. The landscape is defined by a lot of rural, flat farm country.

Flat country + a green environmental movement = Windmills.

Like the few in the Bowling Green's high wind zone North Dakota's landscape is dotted with the energy harvesting turbines. Grand Forks is home to a manufacturing plant for Wind Mills, and we got to see a lot of parts traveling down on the road on "Long Load' tractor trailers.

Findlay and Bowling Green each had an oil boom at the turn of the century which lead to rapid growth. It's a new century, but ND is going through the same growth pains.

Finally, like Findlay, the flat land is prone to flooding.

North Dakota


So really, the only difference between North Dakota and Northwest Ohio is about thirty two feet of snow that dumps on them in October and doesn't melt until May.

Monday, September 27, 2010

I SPY: a Village Three Apples High!

Pop Quiz! What blue skinned alien race living in peace with nature, but hounded by humans is featured in a blockbuster movie next summer? If you said the Na'vi from James Cameron's Avatar you're close - but wrong.

Side note: some critics see Avatar as a thinly veiled retelling of Pocahontas, but Saturday Morning cartoon fans know Cameron really cribbed from Hanna Barbara cartoons*.

The appropriate answer for the pop quiz is the Smurfs - the cutesy, animated azure-skinned,"three apples high" characters made popular by cartoons in the 1980's, recently revived for the silver screen in 2011.

The similarities between Smurfs and Na'vi are deeper than the blue tint. Both live inside plants - Na'vi in tree top cabanas, Smurfs in Mushroom cottages. Where the Na'vi were hunted by a corporate military pursuing Unobtainium, the Smurfs were chased by the gold hunting wizard Gargamel.

Besides the Smurf's decidedly (near) all-male review and homogeneous look the biggest cultural difference from Cameron's Na'vi are the Smurf personalities. Smurfs are defined by one trait, attribute, possession or skill. For instance:

Biking Smurf

or Viking Smurf.

Of course, Gargamel never catches the Smurfs because their village is hidden and appears like Brigadoon, only every so often. So we were surprised to stumble upon it while pedaling down the Cedar Lake Trail last week:

The non-stop rain brought forth a shantytown of Smurfs.

Rows of fungus towers, shacks and bungalows dotted the otherwise empty field.

A Mushroom Metropolis, filled with dainty, dancing, free spirited Smurfs.

So of course, like any fiscally conscientious person stuck in a recession I got to thinking: all my problems are solved! I'll catch a few and turn them into gold. So I rounded up a few, and despite their high pitched squealing dropped them in simmering pot. Turns out the joke was on me.

Newsflash: The cartoon lied. Perhaps I lacked the proper cauldron, or maybe Gargamel had better alchemical insight but merely boiling Smurfs does not turn them into gold - rather, they make a fine gooey, blue paste.

Still, when life gives you lemons - or in this case, paste and mushrooms, well, I was determined to make the best of a bad situation.

Smurf Pizza anyone?

*Parts of this story may have been dramatized...

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Bakery Review: Isles Bun & Coffee

Cinnamon-infused bliss. That’s the best way to describe Isles Bun & Coffee, a small bakery situated between Hennepin Avenue and Lake of the Isles.

From caramel sticky buns to cinnamon rolls, they’re masters of the quintessential sweet bun. They don’t fool around by adding peculiar seasonings or bacon-flavored chocolate. Isles Bun & Coffee simply takes a classic and holds it to the highest standard.

We decided to try the cinnamon roll. . .

. . . and some French Roast coffee.

So, how was the roll?

A soft, sweet, cinnamon giant. Luscious and moist throughout with right-out-of-the-oven freshness. This gastronomical experience lies in that rare place where reality meets expectation.

Apparently, I'm not the only one who thinks so, because when we sat outside we were surrounded by tiny, gourmand birds who desperately wanted a crumb or two.

Isles Bun & Coffee is a bakery worthy of becoming a family tradition.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Art Of Hope

Maintaining hope requires diligent, daily practice. When a person wants to do something well, be it ballet or monster truck driving, they have to practice every day, even if they have a natural talent for it. Natural talent only gets you so far.

When Jonathan lost his job, we made a conscious decision not to fall into the black hole of despair. We planned. We prepared. We decided to temporarily let go of things that might suck us into despondent non-movement (e.g. video games). Then we moved forward toward our future with hope proudly displayed on our sleeves.

But we have to work hard every day to stay hopeful. It’s a full time job to battle the stress of finding a job, the worry that you won’t find one before the money runs out, the sleepless, angst-filled nights and the lazy, immobilizing mornings. So, from the beginning, we decided to set up a routine.

Wake up at 6 a.m. (Steve Inskeep loudly telling us the news on NPR)

Make coffee.

Get to work. Which for us is sitting at our desks, job searching, fielding calls from recruiters and potential employers, writing, reading business books, quizzing each other with interview questions and tweaking our resumes.

For a break we get up, walk around, do chores.

Then we sit down at the desk again and work until 6 or 7 in the evening.

And when we feel overwhelmed we don’t lie down on the floor discouraged and despondent (although sometimes the floor looks mighty nice). Instead we head out the door. We take a walk. We ride our bikes. We explore neighborhoods and historic shopping districts. We remind ourselves there is a world out there and we’re not alone.

Basically, we practice hope with perpetual motion. We don’t stop moving forward.

Or as Dory from Finding Nemo would say, we “just keep swimming.”

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Let The Wild Rumpus Start!

Nestled in the neighborhood of Linden Hills sits a children’s bookstore, Wild Rumpus.

When we first saw the bookstore we walked up to the display window where we spied the obligatory literary cat sunning itself while two children happily petted it.

But it wasn’t until we walked through the entrance, which was a door within a door, that we realized this was no ordinary bookstore.

We entered through the larger door mainly because we didn’t have the mandatory “DRINK ME” potion to shrink us. As we passed by the cash register, I quickly grabbed Jonathan’s arm and held him back because a rooster appeared from behind the counter, sauntering across the aisle. Suddenly, like kids, we started searching the store for other animals. We found a few more roosters, a chinchilla, more cats, a lazy lizard, a giant spider, some talkative cockatiels and a ferret lounging on his back in a hammock made just for him.

While searching for more bookish beasts, we also took in the atmosphere of the store itself. First we noticed the tremendous crack that fissured its way across the ceiling.

Then we spotted the various nooks and crannies for the kids to hide and play within.

Twinkle lights, too.

And, finally, the books. So many children’s books of all types, genres and age groups lining the shelves.

However, the truly best part of the bookstore, beyond all the twinkle lights, friendly animals and hidden spaces, was the fact that it was filled with children eager to read actual books. It's wonderful to see, especially when the media likes to scream that books are dead.

When we finally left and headed out the door, one of the roosters sat in the window to say good-bye and have a good day and please return soon, which, of course, we will.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Reduced Speed Ahead: 65mph

Pop quiz. You're driving down the highway and come to a sign that says you're entering a construction zone and have to reduce your speed... to 65 mph. What speed were you going originally?

If you guessed...

You'd be correct.

We took a road trip this past week up to North Dakota, and were surprised to see a sign calling for us to slow down to 65 - you know, for the safety of the workers. Because the odds of surviving an impact with a few of tons of steel and glass apparently increase at the slow speed of 65 mph.

Don't worry though, the boxy Jeep Cherokee was made for durability, not speed. We barely hit the 72 mph mark on the open road.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

I SPY: A Bicycle Built for Beer

The Midtown Greenway is always hustling and bustling with people on foot or more likely wheels. Just about every week we see a new contraption that goes above and beyond the normal Tandem Bicycles.

For instance there's the Eliptigo: a combination of an elliptical machine and bicycle. Great for cross-training.

Speaking of cross-country-training, Inline skating is huge in Minnesota, and rightfully so as the modern rollerblade had its birthplace (or rather reinvention) in Minneapolis. Skate parks are a common feature of the local community parks, just like basketball courts and swingsets. Leave it to the locals to turn it up a notch with what they call Nordic Blading.

There's nothing like cycling along at 15mph and getting passed by someone on Rollerblades, much less with poles. Next up: remember the Urban Assault ride? The wild folks at New Belgium brewing brought along this beauty that day:

A keg trailer, with a fully functional spigot attached to the handlebars, along with a cup holder. Not bad, eh? As if that weren't enough, when Johari and I reaped the rewards of her scone baking competition by using her champion gift card at The Local we were astonished to see the following roar by:

The Pedal Pub, a 16 seat mobile, human powered bar on wheels. The idea originated in Europe, but soon drifted over to the Twin Cities thanks the native's love of bicycling and beer. This "beer bike" is a popular sight around downtown on ball game days, but is usually known for making runs between local bars, putting a new spin on the old fashioned pub crawl.

We're ready to take the Pedal Pub out, we just need a few volunteers to help with the Flintstone-ian footwork. Anyone up to it?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Deep Fried Cheese Curds . . . Anyone?

There are many, many, many fun and entertaining events that a person could write about concerning the state fair--like rock concerts or carnival games or amusement rides or 1,000 lb. prize-winning pumpkins. It actually can be a bit overwhelming. So, for today's post I'm going to focus on one aspect of the fair . . . Deep-Fried Food On A Stick.

I am simultaneously fascinated and repulsed by the deep-fry phenomenon. Jonathan and I went to the fair on opening day and while we walked around I felt like I was in a movie called Smeagol's Great Adventure At The State Fair, because these thoughts kept going through my head:

"We need to try the deep-fried cheese curds."

"I'm afraid to try the deep-fried cheese curds."

"Be adventurous and give us the deep-fried cheese curds."

"It has the word 'curd' in its name and it sounds too much like another word."

"We wants it. We needs it. We must have the precious cheese curds."

(sobbing) "I hate you. I hate you."

I didn't end up trying the cheese curds, I was able to walk on past. However, the fair isn't over, so I still might fall into the hot cheesy center of Mount Doom.

Besides the cheese curd, there were many other foods fated for the bubbling hot oil (two curds enter, one curd leaves). Here are some examples:

  • Deep-Fried Bacon Caramelized with Maple Syrup on-a-stick
  • Chicken Fried Bacon served in a boat covered in Gravy
  • Fried Bologna on-a-stick
  • Deep-Fried Pickles
  • Deep-Fried Bacon Cheddar Mashed Potatoes on-a-stick
  • Deep-Fried Norwegian Banana Split
  • Deep-Fried Smores on-a-stick
  • Deep-Fried Shortcake on-a-stick
  • Deep-Fried Candy Bars on-a-stick

And the pickle dog...
A pickle smothered in cream cheese and wrapped in pastrami.

We didn't eat any of the above, mainly because we're not 18 anymore and, therefore, no longer possess iron-clad stomachs.

That doesn't mean we stayed away from all fair food, because there was one thing I couldn't resist. I think it had to do with my inner child and the idea that something so wonderful could exist and you could actually buy it for your very own.

The giant pail of hot-from-the-oven chocolate chip cookies.


The woman behind the counter said they sell about 1,000,000 cookies a day at the fair. The fair is 12 days. So,that's a lot of yummy, warm, gooey, chocolate, sugar love! Yum.

Now, I may never completely embrace the deep-fry adventure that is fair food, but there's something to be said about just enjoying yourself for a day and partaking in whatever sweet, strange or somewhat gross kind of food you want. With that in mind, maybe I will try a deep-fried cheese curd. Maybe.