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Black Panther Review

February 19, 2018

This would be my official Black Panther review, but I have not seen the movie yet. Not because I was holding off on seeing it as suggested by Aliza Worthington in a recent Medium post – “Black Panther” Is Not For Us, White People – but because I went to the wrong theater.

I really want to see it, but I don’t usually go to the movies on a Tuesday evening when school is in session. Hell, even during the summer we don’t go to movies on Tuesdays. 

I’m not a huge comic book fan. I haven’t seen most of the movies about comic book heroes, so I am unfamiliar with most of the characters in these movies. Truth be told, I had no idea who Black Panther was before I saw the trailer for this movie a few months ago. 

My interested in the movie is because of Danai Gurira, who happens to play Okoye in Black Panther. Having not seen the movie I know nothing about her character except to assume she is badass.

I love Danai Gurira. Everything about her is amazing. Of course I know of her because of her portrayal of Michonne on The Walking Dead. As you all know, I am a huge fan of The Walking Dead – oh wait, that’s a comic book…. I guess to do follow some of them. Anyway, Michonne is one of the best characters on the show. She and Carol have been my favorites for some time. Danai Gurira brings to Michonne not only her kickass sword moves but she is also the calm within the storm. I don’t think we’ve even come close to learning about the character but you can be sure that Danai Gurira will bring the story to life.

Danai Gurira portrays Michonne as a force of nature, and I suspect she brings the same life to Okoye, though there isn’t much info about the character available as I write this.

We left the house early, but as stated above, went to the wrong theater. By the time I figured out my mistake it was too late, we’d never make the trek across town in time to see the movie. I didn’t want to miss the first half hour so I said forget it and we grabbed a bite to eat instead.

I stumbled across the article mentioned above while we were having dinner. My first reaction was one of sever eye rolling. Who is this white woman who speaks for all the black people? Did black people get together and vote for her to be spokesperson? How arrogant of this woman to presume she can speak for black people or tell white people, or any people for that matter, not to see a movie because it isn’t for them.

I suspect the director, actors and producers want all the people to go to this movie. I mean, isn’t that why they made it? As of this writing the movie is projected to have earned $201 million over the opening weekend. 

I’ll update this post when I have actually seen the movie, so be sure to check back. In the mean time, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it. Was it as good as it looks?

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Real Life Birth Control

February 13, 2018
Real Life Birth Control

I don’t know why they don’t teach this real life birth control in schools, but I promise if they explain to kids of having-sex-for-the-first-time age that this is the shit you’ll have to deal with in another 11-15 years they probably will abstain or at least make sure they actually use birth control.

Nothing is worse that waking up, turning on the coffee maker and not HAVING A FUCKING MUG to drink it from.

I had to go down to the basement to grab a mug that had graduated from the upstairs kitchen to the downstairs kitchen (because you can’t throw away or donate the mugs that your kids give you from camp, Wisconsin Dells or any of the other travels they make in life, even though they are too small for coffee), to use for my coffee because the only other option was a fucking soup bowl. 

Real Life Birth Control

That’s right, I almost poured coffee into a mug with a dead spider and what looks like some tiny critter’s poop. 

I don’t need coffee anymore because I am wide awake.

Real Life Birth Control

I have a gazillion coffee mugs. In fact, when they are all clean there isn’t enough room for them. There was one in the dishwasher along with the soup mugs. There were no mugs in the cabinet which means all the mugs are upstairs, probably filled with dried milk, mold or some such other grossness that there isn’t time to soak before I have coffee.

This and the empty toilet paper roll will be the death of me. These things will be the things that finally make me snap. The neighbors will be all like “Yeah, she was nice, quiet, we talked over the fence. I never would have guessed she’d lose it like this. I mean don’t all teenagers bring plates and dishes into their room?”

My neighbor doesn’t get it.

So, as you can imagine, yelling ensued at 6:30 this morning. 

Bring down all the mugs and other dishes. I actually didn’t yell, but I was yelling in my head. In fact, in my head I was screaming “bring down all the mutherfucking coffee mugs, bowls, and whatever else the fuck you have up there!!”.

I’d been asking for a week for her to bring the shit down. I knew it was getting out of hand, but honestly, I was afraid to go up there and see that she finds comfort and solace in a room where she allows these sorts of science experiments to take place.

This isn’t all of it, and you can’t see the worst. There’s been a trending story lately of a woman who had some worms in her eyes. I can’t even click on it because it sounds so horrible, but this shit takes a close second to eye worms.

If I’d known about this when I was getting married and having kids, I’d have gotten a puppy instead. Instead of making high school kids drag an egg or a sack of flour around for a week, they should have to wash dishes that have pasta that has dried out and is clinging to the side of the bowl for dear life. They should have to scrape spinach (god, I hope it was spinach) off the bowl because no amount of soaking will make it move. They should have the pleasure of opening an enclosed water bottle that has had 2% milk in it for the last three weeks. 

Parenthood, it’s not for the weak.

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Enter to Win Tickets to the Minneapolis Home and Remodeling Show

February 8, 2018
Enter to win tickets to the Minneapolis Home and Remodeling show

I’m giving away 4 pairs of tickets! You can enter to win a pair of tickets to the Minneapolis Home and Remodeling Show by leaving a comment below and guessing how many Almond Joys (leftover from Halloween) are in this wide mouth Mason jar. It’s actually a Ball jar but no one knows them that way.

The Minneapolis Home and Remodeling Show takes place February 16th – 18th, 2018 at US Bank Stadium. So, if you didn’t make it to the Super Bowl, this is almost as good and you get to see the stadium (that I will forever refer to as the Dome until someone comes up with a cute nick-name for it. Calling it by the place I built with stupid overdraft fees doesn’t make me happy at all). 

If you’re thinking of doing any remodeling, DIY projects or just want to see the latest in home technology, then you’ll want to check out the Minneapolis Home and Remodelers Show. 

Minneapolis Home and Remodeling Show

Shop, compare and save with more than 350 experts in remodeling, kitchen & bath, décor, flooring and more!

  1. Get renovation & décor tips from Karl Champley, winning carpenter of HGTV’s Ellen’s Design Challenge Fri- Sun. on the main stage sponsored by Slumberland Furniture.
  2. Get attainable & aspirational design tips from John Loecke & Jason Oliver Nixon the masterminds behind Madcap Cottage on Fri & Sat. on the main stage sponsored by Slumberland Furniture.
  3. Tour three unique Designer Rooms to see the latest trends in both indoor and outdoor living spaces.
  4. Discover how to transform your backyard with a Pool Renovation, sponsored by Outdoor Innovations.
  5. Sit & relax in the Welcome Lounge, sponsored by Plants & Things USA, where you can grab a beverage & test out the latest in outdoor furniture.
  6. See how chairs get a second life in this year’s Upcycle Challenge and bid to take home your favorite! Proceeds benefit Habitat for Humanity ReStore.
  7. Want to test drive your next project? See the Demo before you Reno exhibitors to find innovative products you can try out at the show.

Hero Day: Fri., Feb. 16 all active & retired military, first responders and teachers receive free admission with valid ID.

Feb. 16 is Public Servants Day: all government employees receive free admission with valid ID.

Enter to Win Tickets to the Minneapolis Home and Remodeling Show

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Enter to win tickets to the Minneapolis home and remodeling show

Guess how many “fun size” Almond Joys, leftover from Halloween, are in the jar. Leave your answer in the comments and the four guesses who are closest and followed me everywhere, will win a pair of tickets to the show. The tickets are good for any day of the show. 

*There are now 2 fewer “fun size” Almond Joys in the jar. 

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This Ain’t No Highlight Reel

February 6, 2018
this ain't no highlight reel

Be warned, this ain’t no highlight reel. My friend Kathy, from The Junk Drawer, posted a video on Facebook this morning. Kathy tends to post more cats and stuff from Reddit than sports so I figured there must be more to it than sports. The video is an interview with Nick Foles after winning the Super Bowl where he offers some inspiring words of advice. You can watch it here.

In a nutshell he says don’t be afraid to fail. 

And it is great advice, in fact it’s something for which I’ve become quite proficient. 

But that wasn’t what caught my attention. I had the sound off when I watched the video – like I said, Kathy posts a lot funny cat videos and you don’t need sound for them – and most videos have closed captioning embedded in the video, so I can just read what he is saying.

What he said that caught my eye was this: “In our society today, with Instagram and Twitter, it’s a highlight reel.”

Now, this isn’t earth shattering news. We’ve talked about how Facebook and other social media can be bad for our self esteem because we compare our worst days with everyone else’s best days. We don’t even have to compare our worst days, any days compared to what you see on Facebook is enough to have most folks running for the hills.

I’m no exception. 

I’d just returned from my therapist’s office where I cried for half the session because my life sucks.

I don’t post that shit on Facebook. I post funny little things that amuse me and hopefully others. I post funny little things that annoy me that everyone can agree with like bad drivers or some such trivial crap. I don’t post, for the most part, about the struggles I have been sinking in lately.

It may be that it’s February and that’s just a shitty month to get through – it’s dark, it’s for lovers and there’s too much cake this month. But mostly it’s because I don’t want people to know what a loser I am.

This Ain’t No Highlight Reel

And before you all tell me how great I am – I know I’m not a loser, it’s just the thing I tell myself when the day to day shit is hitting the fan.

For instance today I started off kicking myself about the shit I kick myself about every morning. I am behind on laundry, I forgot to make lunch for the kid and was running behind, I had the therapist’s appointment, which I’d forgotten about and was now going mess up my morning routine and there are dust bunnies everywhere. They’re not even hiding under the furniture anymore, they’re out dancing in the middle of the room and reproducing like, well, bunnies.

I was kicking myself about all that when I decided I wasn’t going to do that today. Instead I was going to focus on what I had accomplished – I built a kickass website yesterday and created a pretty cool marketing plan that should be easy to implement. I got my daughter to all of her appointments last week and still got my work finished. The IEP isn’t done, but I’m ever so slowly learning what I need to do to keep it moving forward. I had some great ideas for things I wanted to write and was looking forward to working on that.

And then I checked my bank balance and noticed I was -$300. Apparently in a fit of organization I set a couple of bills on auto pay without bothering to figure out how I was going to cover them. It was completely my fuck up and now it was going to start snowballing with overdraft fees.

In the 45 seconds it took me to check my bank balance I let the wind out of my sails. I dropped my kid off at the bus stop and then broke down in tears – ugly cry kind of tears – as I drove off. I started thinking about how much my life sucks and how I just can’t get my shit together. How nothing I do seems to be enough to get me out of this trajectory I’ve been on for most of my life and how much I just need a break from it all. 

I even prayed to God, someone or something I am not sure exists, because I have nowhere else to go for help. 

And then I beat myself up for asking him since I’d been praying to him since I was a child and so far it’s just been a one way conversation. 

I even considered selling my soul to the devil, but after contemplating what that might mean decided I couldn’t do that. I would be fine being damned to hell for eternity, but if I had to do something like hurt another person or animal, I just couldn’t do it. 

And these are just the tip of the iceberg. I still have all the problems surrounding my ex, family drama, my computer freaked out last week and I lost three days of work because of it, and no one remembered my birthday except Facebook friends. And as I type this I am aware what a whiner I sound like. Which is why this shit doesn’t make it to Facebook or Twitter or Instagram. 

Though, now that I think about it, Instagramming the dust bunnies might be fun.

I’ve even got more problems than this but I’m at 870 words and know I’ve lost most of you. Hell, I’m boring myself.

The point is, this is not a highlight reel. If you’re having a tough time of it you can be sure someone else is too. You are not alone in your suffering. Everyone has these moments, some more than others but we all have problems. 

And that makes us all losers!

And there should be some comfort in that, right?

I don’t have an ending for this. I have no point to make except to say that I know I am not the only one who has these stupid struggles. I feel inadequate (totally nailed that word on the first try!!) when I see people sharing their vacation photos or book deal – when I can’t even seem to get control of the dust bunnies. A vacation with happy people seems so outside of what I am capable, that I just feel like giving up. The bar is so low for a win, that when I actually spell words like “inadequate” right the first time, I feel like I won the lottery. 

So no, this ain’t no highlight reel, but it is real.

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Did This is Us Live Up to the Hype?

February 5, 2018
Did This is Us live up to the hype?

What do you think, did This is Us live up to the hype? Was it even possible to live up to all the hype that had been created for the beloved show? 

Before we go on, there are spoilers in this post. If you haven’t seen last night’s episode of This is Us, back out and read something else.

Okay, now that that’s out of the way…

This is Us aired immediately after the Super Bowl, which meant it aired close to 10pm CST. I don’t know about you, but that’s late for me. I want to watch the local news through the weather and then I’m in bed. 

I understand why NBC wanted to have the huge audience that was sure to tune in following the Super Bowl, but after watching the game all evening, I really wasn’t ready to focus on the show. In fact, it turns out I missed a lot of important details and ended up having to watch the episode again today.

Did This is Us Live Up to the Hype?

In this episode of This is Us, we finally witness the death of Jack, the beloved father to Randall, Kate and  Kevin and perfect husband to Rebecca. We’ve known for some time that Jack died in a fire, or as it turned out, the result of a fire. It was widely speculated that he would die because he rescued Kate’s dog. While it was not the direct cause, the act didn’t help any.

Jack dies from a heart attack brought on by all the smoke that did damage to his lungs which in turn put stress on his heart. 

Like all This is Us episodes, the story jumps around a timeline that takes place in several times in the past, the present, and now the future. I missed the future reference. I saw it, just didn’t put it together.

I have a love/hate relationship with This is Us, I love the story, I love seeing the underbelly of this nearly broken family, but I have issues with it. They may be unfounded as the story unfolds, but based on the info I have now, I have some problems with it.

All the kids are messed up – Randall has anxiety, Kevin is an addict and Kate has issues about her weight. All of things one would expect children who suffered trauma would experience. The problem is they lost their dad when they were 17. I’m not saying losing a parent at this age isn’t devastating, it is at any age. But 17 years with two parents who not only love the kids but love each other is a rare thing, no matter what timeline they’re in.

These kids had 17 years of being raised by a great dad and attentive and loving mother. Presumably, when they lost their dad, their lives went to shit. 

Except Kate already had issues with food, Randall already had anxiety and Kevin was already an asshole. 

Not that decent parents couldn’t have raised fucked up kids, it does happen, it just seems like the show is trying to lead us to believe the kids are messed up because their dad died (and their mom went on to marry his best friend, though I don’t know that we know when that happens).

All of them are beautifully broken, and yet they manage to lead successful and full lives. I get it, it’s TV. People live in homes that the regular person could never afford on their TV salaries, daycare is never an issue and the bills are always paid. I get it, I really do. 

I don’t think the show lived up to all the hype. Sure, it was sad, but I didn’t cry and I didn’t feel morally crushed. I was not heartbroken. Mostly, because I knew it was coming, and had for nearly two years. I was fairly well prepared for it.

With that in mind, I will say that it was an excellent episode. Mandy Moore did an excellent job portraying a woman who just had her life turn upside down but was unable to break. It simply wasn’t an option, she had to go on. I’m actually more interested in seeing how she copes than the kids for the moment. Yeah, I want to dig deeper into Kate’s disordered eating, but I want to know how Rebecca remains standing. Actually, I know, I’m just excited to see it portrayed in all it’s gritty glory.

Seeing Kevin and his mother reconnect was also satisfying. Kevin continues to be the third wheel when it comes to the kids, at least in relation to their mother, and that is a relationship I would like to explore. Kate has Toby, a man who seems to have it all and then some. He’s thoughtful, caring, loving and I bet he puts the seat down when he’s finished. Randall has Beth, a woman not unlike his mother who is strong as nails. She keeps him grounded and centered so when he falls, like Kate, he has someone to catch him. Kevin doesn’t really have anyone for that because he pushes everyone away, even his mother. Seeing them reach out to one another is refreshing.

I’m looking forward to tomorrow night’s episode if only to see how the grief is managed. I wasn’t satisfied with how Kate’s miscarriage played out, though I concede they probably aren’t finished dealing with that grief, just as Kate still hasn’t grieved the death of her dad.

So did This is Us live up to the hype? In my book no, but then there wasn’t a way it could. And if it had there’s no way the show could continue for much longer. It was an excellent episode that gave many of us a modicum of closure. 

And let’s not forget, Jack is still there. We’ll be seeing him in flashbacks, like we have for the last two years, going forward. Which is how it should be. As long as we have our memories, the people we love never leave us. 

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Some Thoughts on the Super Bowl

February 5, 2018
Some Thoughts on the Super Bowl

Now that it’s over, everyone can go home. Obviously, I have some thoughts on the Super Bowl and all the surrounding festivities and celebrations that took place in the Twin Cities metro area.

Some Thoughts on the Super Bowl

First and foremost, it was pretty awesome. The weather couldn’t have been better. Sure, it was cold and it snowed a few inches, but that’s what we do here and visitors can say they endured a true Minnesotan Winter. Make no mistake, it could have been a lot colder.

The cities involved – Minneapolis, St. Paul, Bloomington and all the other places – put on a great show.

I didn’t go downtown Minneapolis – mostly because of parking, and all the people, and because I don’t care, but if I were into sports it would have been fun. It looked like there was a lot of stuff to do if you are into sports.

I didn’t go to downtown St. Paul either but that’s because I’ve seen it – a lot – and have been to the Winter Carnival many, many times. And, because it was cold. Still, I did watch the news and it all looked awesome. Bravo too whoever was in charge of that, you did a great job.

I did go to the MOA and that is a well oiled machine. I go there most mornings to get my steps in during the winter months so I watched the transformation from mall to media outlet. In just a couple of weeks the mall was completely transformed into a sports venue of sorts, and that’s following the holiday season which was also a major transformation. Today, only hours after the Eagles won the Super Bowl, the Mall of America had mostly returned to being a mall.

The fans were pretty cool. Out of town fans were pretty easy to spot, they were the ones wearing hats, mittens and several layers of coats and vests. All of them had new Sorrel boots. Everyone seemed to behave themselves. The Eagles didn’t trash Minneapolis, though they trashed their own town which is interesting… 

The celebrities were pretty cool too. Except for Justin Timberlake. Don’t get me wrong, he’s cool enough even though he projected a huge image of Prince onto a sheet at his half time show. It was close enough to being a hologram so…. I couldn’t hear most of the songs he sang during his show, but then I don’t know them anyway.

It was an okay show, certainly not the worst, but it didn’t hold a candle to the performance Prince put on in 2007. And that isn’t even where I take issue with JT. No, I’m irritated that he went to my Target on Friday and signed a bunch of his albums and then told fans the secret code to get them. That was fine, it’s that he didn’t actually go to my Target on Friday, he went on Monday and it was all staged. I know they do that, I just thought he was different. 

I didn’t get to have Jimmy Fallon over for dinner, he ended up going to some home in Champlin. I suspect it was because he didn’t get Minnesota Nice or because I goofed and said he was from California instead of New York. I have no idea how I made that mistake, I watch the show every night and it says it in the intro. 

All in all, it was a pretty positive experience. Of course, I live in St. Paul so my life wasn’t impacted that much by the festivities. I’m glad we got to show the football fans and the teams a good time and what a real winter is like and I hope many will return to spend more time here and enjoy all that this state has to offer. However, for now, everyone can just go on home. 

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An Invitation to Dinner for Jimmy Fallon

February 1, 2018
Tater Tot Hot Dish

So apparently Jimmy Fallon is inviting himself to dine with some Minnesotans while he’s here for his live Tonight Show following the Super Bowl. He’s not from here so he wouldn’t know that we don’t just invite ourselves over to someone’s house for dinner. In fact, we have to be invited a minimum of three times before we can accept anything. 

However, this is a special occasion and all so it’s probably okay to overlook this faux pas. 

The daughter and I were watching the news last night when we heard about this. Her immediate response was “why would he want to come here for dinner?”.

Which is a typical Minnesotan thing to say.

With that in mind, I decided to send Jimmy Fallon an invitation to dinner at our house. Of course in Minnesota dinner takes place at noon and lasts until late evening – with half of that taking place at the door trying to say goodbye. 

I did not link to my recipe for tater tot hot dish in the email but am here for those of you who want to know what hot dish is all about. 

I’m a little worried the folks in California won’t understand Minnesota Nice. 

I do have a signature in my email, linking to this blog, and I’m hoping I don’t end up in junk mail. So if you wouldn’t mind tweeting this post to Jimmy, that would be greatly appreciated, unless you have something better to do of course.

Here’s his Twitter @jimmyfallon

An Invitation to Dinner for Jimmy Fallon

Hi Jimmy,

 

I heard you were looking to invite yourself to a Minnesotan’s house for dinner while you were here for the Super Bowl. I guess you do that sort of thing in California. My daughter doesn’t think you’d want to come to our house because we live way over in St. Paul and nobody in Minneapolis ever comes over here but I told her you put your pants on just like everyone else and why wouldn’t you want to come for dinner?

 

So yeah, we’d love to have you come for dinner. It’s a little short notice and all, but it’s no trouble.

 

You said you wanted to try out the local cuisine – whatever that is – but I can pull a Tater Tot Hot Dish out of the basement freezer for you. You said you don’t want a salad, and that’s fine. I’ll still have one for you if you want to try it. I made a lovely Lime Jello Salad, you’ll love it. I can make some bars too, I know I have a box of Betty Crocker somewhere.

 

I’ve been told I make a fair Tater Tot Hot Dish. It’s not as fancy as Margie’s down the street, but that’s because she uses both peas and beans in hers. That’s too much green for me. I prefer peas and corn. Margie also puts that paprika on top of hers, but she’s originally from Wisconsin so what do you expect?

 

Don’t tell Margie I said that about her hot dish, we still have to work together at the Booya this summer and it would be awkward if she knew how I really felt.

 

When would you like to come over? Anytime is good for us, but we got bingo down at the casino on Friday night so we’d have to wrap up supper at about 5:30. Will that work for you? Otherwise we could do dinner on Saturday or Sunday. That’s noon in case you don’t do dinners out in California.

 

Sunday would be nice, we could watch the game. I mean it’s not like the Vikes were gonna win if they got in anyway.

 

Will you be bringing your friend Justin? It’s no trouble if you do, I’ll just have to get my son Alex to come over and get a folding chair out from the garage. It’s really no trouble at all, just let me know.

 

Are you allergic to cats? If you are we’ll put the cats in a room. They don’t get along very well so if you know that cat whisperer maybe you could bring him along instead of your friend Justin? We could really use his help with these dang cats. You must know him right? He’s got all those things in his ears, so he must be from California.

 

Oh, my that was rude of me. You can bring both of them but let me know so I can have Alex get another chair from the garage. It’s really no bother.

 

Well I look forward to meeting you, even if it is on such short notice.

 

Jennifer Brown

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Where to Eat in the Twin Cities While Visiting for the Super Bowl

January 29, 2018
Where to Eat in the Twin Cities While Visiting for the Super Bowl

Wondering where to eat in the Twin Cities while visiting for the Super Bowl? You’re not alone. If you’re here for the sport thing, there are a million sports bars in Minneapolis, St. Paul and the surrounding suburbs that make up the Twin Cities. Sports bars with walls of TVs to catch all the pre-game excitement of Super Bowl LII. However, there’s more to dining than buffalo wings and jalapeño poppers.

Or in the words of our very own Prince:

…But I’m here to tell you, there’s something else….

If this is your first time to these Midwest cities you probably won’t know where to go to get a good meal at a decent price. And there are so many great places that you won’t hear about hanging with sports fans at the US Bank Stadium or the MOA (that’s what the locals call the Mall of America). 

Of course, you’ll need to cross the river for the ones I’m about to tell you about. Don’t get me wrong, there are some great places to eat in Minneapolis, I just can’t think of any I’d want to brave the crowds and traffic for. Come over to St. Paul, we have parking!

Where to Eat in the Twin Cities While Visiting for the Super Bowl

The Commodore

79 Wester Avenue

St. Paul, MN 55102

651-330-5999

The Commodore Bar is where all the hep cats hang out. Originally where people like F. Scott Fitzgerald got their booze on during Prohibition when folks were forced to drink in the speakeasy located in the basement. The bar has been renovated several times in the last 100 years but always retains its stunning beauty and local charm. The food is excellent.  Nothing on the menu will disappoint and the wait staff is exceptional. If you want to step back in time and experience real glamour, check out the Commodore.

W. A. Frost

374 Selby Avenue

St. Paul, MN 55102

651-224-5715

W. A. Frost is owned by the same folks as the Commodore so the prices are similar and the food offerings are similar American cuisine and of course, the service is stellar. The difference is the ambiance. Both are lovely, just have completely different vibes. Jeans are perfectly acceptable, but you wouldn’t stick out in a cocktail dress or suit either. W. A. Frost is just a short walk up Western Avenue from The Commodore. If you really want to fit in with the locals do some bar hopping in sub-zero temps. That’s what F. Scott did.

The Lexington

1096 Grand Avenue

St. Paul, MN

55105

651-289-4990

The Lexington is another former Speakeasy. Originally built in the thirties and remodeled just last year, it has long been a neighborhood place to be and be seen. Enjoy an Old Fashioned at the bar while waiting for your table. The food is supper club staples like popovers, Steak Diane, and their signature pot pie. Just want a little nibble before the big game, try their relish tray, it is to-die-for. 

Looking for something a little less glamorous? How about these fine establishments:

The Nook

492 Hamline Avenue S.

St. Paul, MN 55116

651-698-4347

The Nook is another neighborhood bar. It’s family friendly and is famous for its Juicy Lucy – as featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives with Guy Feiri. It’s right across the street from where Joe Mauer and Paul Molitor went to school. If you aren’t too stuffed from the great burgers, head downstairs for a little bowling. It doesn’t get more Minnesotan than The Nook.

Groveland Tap

1834 St. Clair Avenue

St. Paul, MN

55105

651-699-5058

Another neighborhood joint to visit when you want a beer and a burger. Known for their onion rings and cheese curds you might feel like you’re in heaven or at the State Fair. Nope, just Mac/Groveland. Large beer selection and they’ve just added a decent wine selection.

Tiffany’s

2051 Ford Parkway

St. Paul, MN 55116

651-699-4747

Another neighborhood bar where you’ll find plenty of great beer and good pub grub. Be warned, the folks at Tiffany’s are Packers fans… Not really sure what else there is to say.

As a Minnesotan, and mostly as a St. Paulite, I don’t venuture out of my comfort zone. I’ve been visiting these six establishments since before it was legal for me to drink. If you know of any that belong on this list, be sure to leave a link and possibly your review in the comment section.

Advice Blogging Books Events Huh Minnesota Minnesota Nice Winter

How to Fit in When Visiting the Twin Cities for the Super Bowl

January 29, 2018
How to Fit in When Visiting the Twin Cities for the Super Bowl

If you’re wondering how to fit in when visiting the Twin Cities for the Super Bowl, I’ll save you all kinds of time. You can’t. Sure, you can dress warmly (though that is the first clue you aren’t from here), and you can even adopt a quasi Fargo accent, you still won’t fit in.

Hell, I was born here and have lived here for most of my life and I’m not welcome in many of the neighborhoods (one of which I grew up in). The truth is, Minnesotans make their friends in kindergarten and those are the people they socialize with for the rest of their lives. You can marry your way into the group, but you better not get divorced because even if you were a lifelong member of the group, we will dump your ass faster than you can say “ya sure, you betcha”. We have to because we want to talk behind your back and as Minnesotans we can’t do that if we’re bowling with you every Friday night.

How to Fit in When Visiting the Twin Cities for the Super Bowl

Minnesota Nice

We’re not really that nice. I know the media is pushing Minnesota Nice like we’re this warm and welcoming place, and we are to our friends we met in kindergarten, but not to strangers. And if you came to Minnesota from another state you are a stranger. People move here from out of state and live amongst us for decades and they remain strangers to the locals. There’s nothing you can do about it, it’s the rule.

We are Polite

However, we are polite. In fact, we’re considerably more polite to the strangers than our kindergarten friends. We’ll hold the door open for you and we’ll offer to jump start your car when it’s too cold for the engine to turn over. We’ll even help push your car when it gets stuck in the snow. That’s just common courtesy and while we may not be particularly religious, we have that thing called Lutheran Karma (really, it’s a thing, I just made it up) cuz we know our car will get stuck at some point.

Dress Accordingly

If you’re coming here from the east you can probably acclimate to the cold weather and dress appropriately, except it’s a lot colder. If you’re coming from the south or the west –  it’s not going to work. Dressing appropriately for a Minnesota winter does not mean wearing three layers of down coat, three pairs of socks and your brand new Sorrels. It’s going to be chilly here this week. The forecast has the temps ranging from -8°F to 29°F, that’s an open jacket, no mittens and no hat for Minnesotans. College males will dress in shorts this time of year. The only time you wear all of those layers is when you are ice fishing and that’s because you’re standing on a few feet of ice and that can get a little nippy. 

The Skyway

Part of the reason we don’t wear all those layers is because we have a Habitrail system in both cities. The Skyway is a system of above-ground walkways that connect the buildings in the downtowns. You never actually have to go outside. They can be easy to get lost in, however. Every now and then there are sightings of old Deadheads who visited in the 90s for a Grateful Dead concert and never found their way out. It might have been the acid or it might have been the skyway system. We’ll never know so be careful. 

The Long Goodbye

In Minnesota, nothing lasts longer than saying goodbye, except for maybe the losing streak of the Minnesota Vikings (too soon?). We say goodbye for longer than we visited. If you stop someone in the skyway and ask for directions we will chat you up. We’ll ask where you’re from and then we won’t be able to say goodbye without at least three attempts. It’s another one of those rules that have been in existence since time immemorial. It just is, go with it. Trying to force an early goodbye will just make it take longer. Thankfully they close the skyways at 10pm on weeknights, 8pm on Saturday and 6pm on Sunday. 

Driving/Parking

If you’re not from here you’re probably better off using the light rail system, an Uber or taking the bus. We recently had over a foot of snow and the plowing still isn’t completed, at least not in St. Paul. It’s not worth the accident, insurance increase and the long goodbye you’ll have to have outside in -8°F after exchanging insurance info. If you do plan on driving please study this primer on Minnesota Driving. It covers it all from parking, getting stuck and what to put in your emergency kit. It attempts to tackle pedestrians and their right of way, but that’s always a heated discussion. 

It won’t help you fit in, but it will help you understand why we are the way we are. Pick up a copy of How to Talk Minnesotan by Howard Mohr, or better yet, leave a comment for a chance to win a copy. You won’t get it before the Super Bowl, unless you want a digital copy (checks to see if they have digital copies – they do not, bummer). Still, it’s pretty funny and explains a lot. Of course, unless you fall in love with a local you’ll probably never come back here so no need really, but feel free to if you like. I’ll choose a random person from the comments as winner of this pretty funny book.

 

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Blogging Dumb Shit I Do Food Minnesota Recipes Things I Really Like Winter

Big Mac Hot Dish with Noodles

January 27, 2018

Earlier I posted a recipe for Big Mac Hot Dish, but because I was concerned about my use of Tater Tots in the recipe I also a Big Mac Hot Dish with Noodles using elbow noodles instead of the tots. Initially I did not want to use noodles, it just seemed like a weird combination of flavors – pickles, cheese, tomatoes – to have with pasta. Still, I was concerned the tots might get soggy and I knew the pasta would come together better and probably look better on a plate. 

Turns out, both are super tasty and super easy. Here is the recipe for Big Mac Hot Dish with Noodles.

Big Mac Hot Dish with Noodles

Ingredients:

1 lb ground beef

1 medium yellow onion – chopped

Half a box elbow noodles cooked al dente and drained

1/2 cup diced tomatoes – drained

1/2 cup diced pickles – drained

10 oz Velveeta – cubed for easy melting

1/2 cup milk or half and half

1/4 cup Thousand Island dressing

Putting it all together:

Cook the elbow noodles according to the package so they are al dente. 

After dicing the pickles press them between several layers of paper towel to remove as much liquid as possible.

While the pasta is cooking brown the ground beef with the chopped onion, cook thoroughly and drain. Turn the burner down to medium and add the tomatoes and pickles, mix well.

Slowly add the Velveeta and milk and stir while it melts. Add the Thousand Island dressing and mix well. If your mixture is too thick you can add more milk.

The pasta will absorb the liquid so you’ll want this to be a little less thick.

Fold in the pasta and place mixture in casserole dish and bake covered for 20 minutes at 350°F.

 

Serve and enjoy!

Dumb Shit I Do Food Minnesota Recipes Things I Really Like Winter

Big Mac Hot Dish

January 27, 2018
Big Mac Hot Dish, Big Mac Casserole

If you’re looking for comfort food, this Big Mac Hot Dish is just the thing on a cold winter day. Seriously, it’s really tasty and super easy to make. 

I grew up on Tang and Pop Tarts, going to McDonald’s was a rare thing in my family and quite a treat when it did happen. The only reason to go to McDonald’s back then was the Big Mac. This was before McRib, Chicken Tenders, McNuggets, etc.

Back then – mid 70s – you had the choice of a hamburger, cheese burger and the brand new two all beef patties special sauce lettuce cheese pickles onions on a sesame seed bun – Big Mac. It was divine. 

Now that I’m older, more responsible and more health conscious, when I do go to McDonald’s I order a chicken sandwich and don’t eat the bun. It’s not nearly as much fun so I don’t go often.

Today, I was craving a Big Mac. Mostly I wanted the pickle bite with the special sauce, and cheese. I didn’t want to go to the Golden Arches because I’m really trying to use what I have in my fridge – creatively – so I figured I’d try a Big Mac Hot Dish.

It turned out wonderfully if I do say so myself. Actually I was surprised at how good it is. I didn’t want to make a casserole with pasta. I really wanted to keep it as close to a Big Mac as I could. The problem with that is it would basically be a Big Mac in the blender, and I didn’t want that. So, instead of the pasta I used Tater Tots and OMG it’s awesome.

After I made this I Googled to see if this was a thing. Apparently it is but it uses lettuce and crescent roll dough, and sesame seeds. So, technically this is not really a Big Mac because I left those things out and added the potato, however, I think this is a superior hot dish because it’s like having fries with it – which is the only way to have a Big Mac. 

This is the most retro casserole or hot dish you could imagine. It oozes the 70s and it is super!

Big Mac Hot Dish

Ingredients:

1 lb ground beef

1 medium yellow onion – chopped

1 cup Tater Tots (I used the smaller crispy ones)

1/2 cup diced tomatoes – drained

1/2 cup diced pickles – drained

8 oz Velveeta – cubed for easy melting

1/2 cup milk or half and half

1/4 cup Thousand Island dressing

Putting it all together:

Cook the Tater Tots according the package. I wanted them crisp because I was fearful they might make the dish soggy. 

While the tots are cooking brown the ground beef with the chopped onion until cooked thoroughly and drain. Turn the burner down to medium and add the tomatoes and pickles, mix well.

Big Mac Casserole

A note about the pickles, I drained them and then pressed them between paper towels to take out as much of the liquid as possible. 

diced pickles

Slowly add the Velveeta and milk and stir while it melts. Add the Thousand Island dressing and mix well. If your mixture is too thick you can add more milk, but you don’t want it runny, it’s okay if it’s a little on the thick side.

Big Mac Casserole Recipe

Fold in the tots and place mixture in casserole dish and bake covered for 20 minutes at 350°F. Remove the cover for the last 10 minutes or so if you want it to brown up any exposed tots. 

Big Mac Hot Dish Recipe

 

Serve and enjoy.

I didn’t think to put a garnish on the dish, but some shredded lettuce sprinkled on top would probably work really nicely and make it more Big Mac ish. You could even put a few sesame seeds on top of the lettuce. I thought about putting some hash browns on top in a very thin layer – mostly for the crunch and color, but that seemed like overkill with the tots so I skipped it. Cheese didn’t seem right either. A little bacon might be good too, it’s just not my thing. 

Because I was concerned the tots might get soggy I also made a variation with elbow noodles instead of the tots. I added more cheese to this variation so it was more of a Big Mac & Cheese Hot Dish instead. I’ll post that recipe next. 

If you have any ideas for garnish or sides please let me know in the comments. 

 

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