The Wedding of The Year

MandM

Yesterday was The Wedding of the Year and my dear friends threw a wonderful party.

Everywhere you looked were flowers, different fabrics (I loved the burlap) and their personal touch – like this handmade banner where the ceremony took place:

banner

The flowers were beautiful:

Did I mention there were flowers everywhere?
flowers

And there was cake from Buttercream (my favorite!!):
cake

The Husband was especially impressed by the beer selection:
beer

And how about some cake?
cake

And delicious food (so many veggie choices too!):
food

And cake:
cake

There was so much revelry, the joy was palpable:
bar

And more cake:
cake

I loved their favors, little seed bombs in muslin bags:
seed bombs

Did I mention there was cake?
cakes

Cheers to my dear friends, here’s to another 20+ years together!toast

** And for those of you that have been following along, the Wedding Shrug was finished just in the nick of time (9:30pm the night before the wedding):
wedding shrug

The Food You Grew Up With and Craft Beer Tasting

There is something luxurious about having a weekday off. It’s even more luxurious when The Husband says that we should go out to breakfast. This man knows the way to my heart.

We went to an old favorite, Keys Café (the original location). As you can see, it’s Minnesota’s most awarded family restaurant:

keys-cafe-menu

Some breakfasts deserve an appetizer, and if you go to Key’s, you need to get a cinnamon roll:

cinnamon-roll

Hello, Lover.

The Husband was in heaven with all the bacon that came with his Ranch Special:

eggs-hashbrowns

Two eggs, hash browns, toast, and choice of sausage, ham, or bacon.

And my Veggie Scramble was a cheesy delight:

veggie-scramble

Eggs scrambled in mixed vegetables and hashbrowns topped with cheese (with toast).

After breakfast, The Husband headed to work and I enjoyed a few hours getting ready for Thanksgiving. I should have been working on the shrug for the Wedding of the Year (which is Friday – eek!), but I didn’t.

Before long, I had to pick up The Best-Good Friend and head to Fulton Brewing to sample The Husband’s beer. Fulton is doing a taproom “Brewers Series” and The Husband is calling his Robust Smoked Porter “London’s Burning.” It was the first time his beer has been available in the taproom and he was stoked.

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And now, I really must get to that shrug.

Cheers!

beer

Weekend Delights: Local Theater, Food and Winter Farmers Markets

Another whirlwind weekend that was filled to the brim in all the right ways. The Husband and I started things off at Hot Plate in south Minneapolis for an early breakfast on Saturday. I love the “paint by numbers” art all over the walls, we always wonder who painted them. This time I got the Greek Scramble but my favorite is the “BLT Omelet” (minus the ‘B’ for this vegetarian, of course):

Greek Scramble

My Greek Scramble with feta cheese, spinach and kalamata olives. Served with fried potatoes and toast, I ate mine with orange marmalade. (vegetarian)

Breakfast Sandwich

The Husband’s Drive-Thru Sandwich: Biscuit with sausage pattie, fried egg, American cheese, and a side of fried potatoes.

From there we headed to the Mill City Museum where the Mill City Winter Farmer’s Market was being held. I had never been there before and it was really cool, we’re going to go back to tour the museum another day when we have more time.

The Mill City Museum is on the Mississippi River in downtown Minneapolis and is adjacent to St. Anthony Falls and the Stone Arch Bridge. The building is built into the ruins of what was once the world’s largest flour mill:

Indoors at the market, there were 40 farmers market and craft vendors, including the whole reason I had to go Singing Hills Goat Dairy. She talked me into a sample of the Dilly Garlic Goat Cheese Curds at the Kingfield/Fulton Winter Market a few weeks ago and they were so amazing, I had to stock up:

Five bags of Dilly Garlic Goat Curds later, I was a happy woman. We also bought some Olsen’s Naturals Healing Lip Balm, Triple Crown BBQ Sauce made in NE Minneapolis (a three-time Minnesota State Fair Blue Premium winner – that’s serious), and some salsa verde from a cool organization I wasn’t familiar with, Urban Roots. I can’t wait to taste it!

farmers market purchases

Our winter market goodies.

Thanks to our early start, there was time to take Danny on a walk. It was a balmy 15 degrees, but we did a little bird watching while we walked along Minnehaha Creek:

And then The Husband and I were off again. We were heading back downtown, this time with The Mother and The Brother to see A Christmas Carol at The Guthrie Theater. It was bitterly cold outside, so the views from the Endless Bridge were short and sweet:

I have a new favorite meal and you can find it at Brasa. Brasa serves comfort food inspired by the creole cooking traditions of the Americas and Caribbean, and my Black Bean Fritter Sandwich was SO GOOD. I love that they use 100% natural, locally produced organic producers. Their meats are slow cooked featuring rotisserie, braises and roasts – I can’t speak to that (and my bad photos prove it) – but The Brother and The Husband were both members of the Clean Plate Club:

By that point in the day, I was ready to put my feet up and we finally watched Cloud Atlas. I thought that was one of the most amazing movies I’ve ever seen, what a story. The book is on my reading list now, will I be disappointed?

Sunday I decided to tackle things around the house. First up, a batch of The Regret of Sharing Banana Bread. I added some chopped Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and some Hershey bars this time. YUM. While it was in the oven, I started filtering the grape vodka for bottling. 16 cups of vodka later, I only have one more jar to go. What a mess:

vodka infusion filtering

I filter my vodka infusions through coffee filters. Is there a better way?

Since I couldn’t make a bigger mess of myself now that I was covered in grape infused vodka, I decided to tackle Danny’s Thanksgiving bath. I usually end up wetter than he does:

Danny Bath Time

Such a sad face. What did he do to deserve this??

After I toweled myself off, I thought Cleo was trying to tell me that she forgave me for putting Soft Claws on her this morning:

Cleo

Turns out she was making a move on my tea time treat:

Cleo and treats

Fancy banana bread and Orange Blossom Special TeaSource tea.

She didn’t get any of that either, I better sleep with one eye open for awhile….

Tuesday Night Date Night: Cheesy Love

In my humble opinion, nothing says “I love you” quite like cheese. When The Husband reminded me that last night was our last evening together this week, I knew I had to make Shutterbean’s Sriracha Mac ‘n Cheese for dinner.

Do yourself a favor and say I love you with some cheesy goodness tonight:

mac-n-cheese

Weekend Delights: Girl About Town

The Best-Good Friend knows that I love a craft fair, so on Saturday she took me to Minneapolis Craft’za at the Grain Belt Bottling House in NE Minneapolis. Craft’za is a one-day art market for handmade goods and they even had workshops going on. It was so crowded, we had a hard time working our way through all the vendors, but I did manage to get myself two treasures:

All of that crowd-surfing made us hungry, so we headed back to my neck of the woods to one of my favorite restaurants ever, The
Lowbrow
. They have great food, this is what I dream of at night:

tofu sandwich

Fried Tofu Sandwich: Seasoned, fried tofu, pickled jalapenos, shredded cabbage, and homemade BBQ sauce on a toasted bun (vegan)

The Best-Good Friend decided to go for breakfast and said it was really gouda. Okay, I made that up, but she said it was really good – especially with the side of bacon:

jalapeno hash

Jalapeno Hash: Hasbrowns cooked with onions and jalapenos smothered in chipotle gouda topped with two eggs and spicy sour cream. Served with toast, and a side of bacon

The Husband and I had a fancy His & His engagement party to go to that evening, I felt that my dressing of the wine bottles was especially clever:

wine

Neckties!

Since I picked Victor’s 1959 Cafe for breakfast last weekend (which I can’t stop thinking about), I let The Husband decide where to go this week. He chose Haute Dish and invited The Mom-in-Law to join us. He’s been wanting to try them out for awhile but their dinner menu is light on vegetarian options, so breakfast seemed like a great solution. The best part about it was the delicious caramel roll. If we go back, I’ll just get a dozen of those:

We had to make a stop at The Mother’s so The Husband could work on her snow blower. In Minnesota, you don’t want to wait until it snows to make sure it’s working or you could end up shoveling:

snow blower

We explored a neighborhood shop that was new to us, thanks to a friend on Facebook for tipping us off! The shop is called Junket: Tossed & Found and is a mission-driven small business that connects people with the things they need. Take a look at this great article about how they strive to reduce waste and help other non-profits all while trying to give things on their way to the landfill a second life. It was so fun walking through the shop and seeing the things they had made from discarded items in addition to the cool vintage items:

After Junket, we still had some time for a few more errands and managed to find some special treats for the cats:

toy mice

The Force is strong in you, young Jedi.

And a few special treats for me too!

The Squeaky Green Machine Meets The Green Goddess

The minute that I saw this recipe I knew I had to make it. Everything about it called out to me, especially the title: Green Goddess Grilled Cheese Sandwich. It sounded like the perfect meal for this Squeaky Green Machine.

After much deliberation and consultation with The Girlfriend, I decided to pair my Green Goddess from Taste Spotting with a spicy red lentil soup from EatingWell. You shouldn’t be surprised to learn that I cut some corners with these recipes.

For the Green Goddess Grilled Cheese Sandwich, I confess that I used premade pesto. I also used herb & garlic goat cheese and Havarti on my local grocery store’s multigrain bakery bread. Next time I make these (and there will definitely be a next time), I’m going to do it on my George Foreman Grill and use more avocado.

I made the spicy red lentil soup the night before and it reheated beautifully. I didn’t have any tomato paste on hand, so I used a package of the Oven-Candied Summer Tomatoes that I had in the freezer. I skipped the spicy oil and just squirted a bunch of srirachi on top. This soup made a tasty lunch the next day when eaten at room temperature, but I wished for some pita or naan for dipping.

The Mother could hardly wait to get her hands on her Green Goddess and I felt the same. I could barely get a picture taken before diving in:

soup and sandwich

Reckless Knitting or Creative Process?

My knitting mojo has been seriously off lately. Unless it is a scarf or shawl, projects are not turning out as planned. Don’t believe me? I give you these examples.

The Baby Blue Cardi
Last May, I excitedly blocked each piece of this lovely sweater. I was eager to finish because I thought the light, lace summer cardigan would be perfect for an upcoming work trip. I added the button band and collar, and then I realized that things were terribly wrong. The sleeves were way too big for the tiny openings that were calling themselves armholes. And how did the back become such a completely different length than the front? I would like to say that I quietly tucked the pieces away in a Zen-like state of calm until I could deal with it more rationally, but the truth is that a huge temper tantrum ensued. The baby blue monstrosity is still waiting for me to come up with a solution:

blue cardigan

I swear, I followed the pattern.

The Wedding Shrug
When I found The Perfect Dress in Los Angeles, I knew I had to wear it to a The Wedding of The Year in November:

plaid dress

The Perfect Dress

Now, I’m not sure if you’ve been to Minnesota in November, but it is definitely not a time to wear short sleeves. In fact, I’m currently wearing three layers (one of which is an angora sweater) and I’m still cold. Late October, a voice started whispering in my ear that I should knit a sweater to wear with the dress. My knitting group talked me into a fitted shrug instead of a full sweater and thank goodness for that, because I have already frogged the nearly completed piece and just began again. I’m glad that I had the foresight to try said shrug on the dress form with The Perfect Dress before completing it (and that it wasn’t the night before The Wedding of The Year). My shrug was measuring in approximately 4 sizes larger than what I had intended. How did I not notice this during the knitting process? It’s a shrug. They always look small even when they are turning out ginormous.

The good news is that if I’m starting over with the smallest size, hopefully it will knit up twice as fast, right? Here’s to hoping, this will be my last chance to get it right because the first attempt was oh so wrong:

wedding shrug

The only thing that could make this shrug look worse was taking a picture of it with my phone – which is what I did.

The Chocolate Brown Cardi
This is a sweater that raised so many red flags during the knitting process, I don’t feel I can take the 100% of the blame for its outcome. The pattern called it a “fitted cardi” but I assure you, mine was nothing of the sort. I had a good 10 extra inches through the torso and the sweater sagged unflatteringly. The arms would have made a nice set of legwarmers, they were so big. The strangest occurrence with The Chocolate Brown Cardi was that when the extra large “fitted” cardigan was done, I still had half the yarn left that the pattern had called for. Um… what?

brown cardigan

Preparing for surgery.

I know what the knitters are thinking right now. “Is she not checking her gauge?” The answer is, sort of. I start checking my gauge and then feel like I’m close enough and times a wastin’ so I better get cast on already – and with The Wedding Shrug, that could not be more true. The other thing that I should mention, is that I’m getting better at fixing my botched efforts. A few months ago, I started trying to perform surgery on The Chocolate Brown Cardi. The yarn was nothing special, and I already couldn’t wear it in public, so I started trying to create a new sweater through sewing and cutting. My latest episode of playing Sweater Doctor seems to have resulted in a very appealing Chocolate Brown Cardi:

chocolate brown cardigan

Pardon the hat head, it’s cold in Minnesota right now.

So, at this point when my lackadaisical process seems to be paying off in the end most of the time, I don’t know if I will be able to bite the bullet and learn how to accurately get gauge at the beginning of the process. And tell me honestly, should you keep a girl from marching to her own drummer when she can perform sweater surgery? Isn’t that inhibiting her creative process? Personally I’m on the fence with that right now. There’s something appealing about living a little dangerously in regard to having The Wedding Shrug done in time. Will it fit? Will there be time to try a third time? Will I be racing around the mall crying, desperately searching for a sweater to wear the day before the wedding? I ask you, who would have thought so much risk and excitement could come from knitting?

As for the Baby Blue Cardi, I’m fairly confident that I’ll eventually come up with a solution for that. Trust me, it won’t be summer sweater season for awhile so I have time.

Weekend Delights: Craft Fair Season, Local Food and Markets

I couldn’t have asked for a better Saturday, it was filled to the brim with motherly love.

The Mother and I started things off with our annual celebration of Craft Fair Season, also known as “November in Minnesota.” We managed to hit four fairs before 1pm and found many treasures. The handmade items were spectacular this year. We purchased beaded jewelry, fabric owls, a charming carved wooden birdhouse ornament, and several calligraphy paintings. And “Grandma’s Attic” was especially good too, I love the cast-offs that no one else wants. Take a look at the new Santa Christmas cookie plate that I found for $1, the porcelain cheese plates and vintage placemats among all of our handmade finds (all under $10!):

craft-finds

After The Mother and I took one last look at our finds, I headed to The Grandma’s house for our weekly visit. She was pretty excited about her new tennis shoes so I had to get a picture. Look at how white they are! I told her she’d have to get to work soon and dirty them up, they were blinding:

tennis shoes

New kicks!

The Mom-In-Law and I had a hot dinner date planned for the evening. We have been wanting to give First Course in south Minneapolis a try for weeks now, and to say that it was spectacular would be an understatement. We relied on the recommendations of our server, and she guided us through a delectable vegetarian meal:

The early bird catches the worm, and we were definitely the lucky birds on our first visit to Victor’s 1959 Café Sunday morning. The Husband and I had heard that it fills up fast, so we were there at 8am when the doors opened. By 8:30, half the tables were filled and by 9, there was a line of people waiting to be seated. I think that this was by far my favorite breakfast yet – next time, however, I need a side of avocado. I also have to mention that I love that they mark vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options on their menu. It makes things far easier for a vegetarian like me, especially with new menus.

Fueled up and ready to face the day, we headed to the last Kingfield/Futon Farmer’s Market of the year. Minnesotans are hearty, but this final market was held indoors at Bachman’s Garden Center. The last of the crops were in and the vendors were out. We bought scented candles, jam, marmalade, apples, Singing Hills Goat Dairy dilled cheese curds, and this great lip balm by “Worker B” that actually seems to be helping my dry lips (though I’m trying not to get my hopes up too soon).

root vegetables

One of the benefits to being up at the crack of dawn is plenty of time in the day. So after the Farmer’s Market, we started running around town. I was so pleased that it involved a stop at the fabric store – YAY! Everything was on sale and I finally managed to pick up fabric for upstairs curtains and some great remnants that I’m going to try making scarves out of.

On the way home, we came across a field of Canadian Geese. The Husband pulled over so I could try to tiptoe through the goose poop to get some pictures:

canadian geese

This one didn’t seem to appreciate my interest:

goose

And as if the weekend couldn’t get any better, we ended it with our favorite pizza ever – Italian Pie Shoppe. Sorry, Minneapolis, we had to go to St. Paul for that.

pizza

Breakfast of Champions: Green Juice

I don’t know about you, but I think this looks like the perfect breakfast for a Squeaky Green Machine:

green juice

Green juice to power a girl through the morning.

Inspired by the Spinach-Apple juice recipe from EatingWell (which is REALLY GOOD), I decided to experiment and threw everything but the kitchen sink into it.

I had two Honey Crisp apples, a green bell pepper, some kale, an inch of ginger, a couple stalks of celery and half a grapefruit – the combination ended up being pretty tasty.

The Husband, I might mention, does not think this looks appetizing at all and could not be compelled to try it. I hope that you live adventurously and give it a go!

Until Next Time, My Sweet

reese's wrapper

I have been mourning the loss of the Reese’s Peanut Butter Pumpkins from our Halloween candy stash for several days now. They were part of my life for such a short time yet brought so much joy, I’m not sure how to go on without them.

The Reese’s holiday edition peanut butter “cups” are by far my favorite candy ever. I can give or take a traditional peanut butter cup and I won’t even touch the mini cup, but the holiday editions bring out the worst in me and I can’t be held accountable for my actions. I’ve been known to steal them from The Husband’s Easter basket, eating them in private, hiding the wrappers and then lying when asked if I ate them. “No, I most certainly did not, how could you imply something like that?” Of course he knows I cannot help myself and now hides his own to protect them from me.

This past Halloween, I was thrilled to see that Reese’s had upped the ante by producing “mini” versions of the holiday pumpkin. This proved to be an even more tantalizing candy than its predecessor. A perfect bite-sized package of peanut butter with just the right amount of smooth chocolaty goodness. My eyes closed in bliss when I ate the first one. And the second. And eventually the third and fourth – well, you get the idea. I’ve spent hours contemplating the appeal of this candy and what makes it so far superior to the classic cup. But in the end, what does it matter? They are all gone and the holiday edition Christmas trees feel so far away….

I know what you’re thinking, “Why doesn’t she stock up?” Please see above statements, I cannot control myself when they are in the house. They simply would not last but would be consumed at a gluttonous pace in secret and I would be up hours past my bedtime gleefully energized by their sugary goodness, eyes shiny in rapturous joy.

So, until we meet again, my dear friend… a haiku tribute to you:

Peanut butter dreams
With sweet, melting chocolate
Oh, how I love you.

If only there was a Reese’s peanut butter turkey to hold me over until tree season…..

Weekend Delights: Local Food and Craft Fairs

It was a great to finally have a weekend off with The Husband. We decided to kick things off Saturday with breakfast at The Blackbird. We haven’t been there since a fire destroyed their original location and we weren’t disappointed.

The Husband savored the Earl Gray Tea Forté from Tea Source:

tea time

While I took in the decor:
friends plaque

My breakfast deserves center stage: The Tofu Scramble. I’m glad that I took our server’s advice (especially the addition of red pepper), it was SO GOOD:

tofu scramber

Marinated tofu, broccoli, spinach, hash browns, toast & apricot preserves (vegetarian)

The Husband had the Sweet Potato Biscuits & Gravy with a side of eggs. He had been apprehensive about the biscuits being sweet potato, but his eyes lit up when he took his first bite. He said the sweetness of the biscuit was the perfect combination with the saltiness of the sausage gravy:

bisquits and gravy

The Husband described his breakfast as “a really clever twist on a classic.”

On the way home, we stopped at the Nokomis Community Center for the Nokomis Urban Craft Fair. This is the third time I’ve been, the fifth year that they’ve held it. I love craft fairs, it’s so much fun to see the items people make:

urban craft sale

More than 30 local vendors were selling their wares.

We decided to have a date night (finally for two!) that night and The Husband took me to Blacksheep Pizza, he has been dying to introduce me to “The Sicilian.” The Sicilian is a 16″ square pizza topped with mozzarella, sauce and extra virgin olive oil. They bake all of them first thing in the morning before the oven is too hot, so Sicilians are first come first serve. Fortunately, we got there in time to claim the last half of Sicilian that they had left:

the sicilian pizza

The mighty Sicilian.

The Spinach Blue Cheese Salad was really good too, and I was surprised to really like the dressing. Our server told us that it is Blacksheep’s take on Ranch – made with buttermilk. I’m not a dressing fan at all (yes, I feel it is important to stress that point) but I tell you, I wanted the recipe for this stuff:

salad

We have the perfect marriage. The Husband eats the big blobs of blue cheese and I eat the big blobs of tomatoes.

The Sicilian makes me think of an awesome cheese bread with fresh tomato on top:
pizza-salad

Sunday was less interesting but at least we have a clean house now. I did indulge in some kitchen time and tried a new vegetarian lasagna recipe.* It came together very quick and was a hit, even with The Mom!

lasagna dinner

My “Meals on Wheels” delivery for The Mom. Who wouldn’t feel better with a dinner like this?

And my most important takeaway from the weekend, thanks to The Blackbird Café:
inspirational plaque

* A few notes. I only used half the sauce that the recipe called for, a “Pizzeria” cheese blend, a vegetable peeler on the zucchini and cut the mushrooms very thin – because I’m not a huge fan of the fungus.