Monday, March 23, 2015

How to use this very suggestive-looking curling iron

Hello! This is the Revlon Curl Magic Styling Wand and it looks REALLY sexually-suggestive. But I think it's a great option for people who want sort of curly/messy hair and regular curling irons never work for them but they're too scared to use the straight wand and not talented enough to avoid burning themselves. (In this situation "themselves" equals me.)

Below is a demonstration of how to use the wand. The video is less than three minutes long, but the hairdo took me about seven minutes total. Enjoy, and try not to hurt yourself!


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Two Lady Bits Got Married!

Lady Bit Rachael and Lady Bit Anna married their fellas within one month of each other.  Hooray! They both planned beautiful weddings and would like to share their wisdom with all ye other Lady bits out there.

1. Having creative friends contribute their talents to your wedding is completely wonderful and can add a special touch to your day.  But be aware that you are essentially hiring your friends and that can sometimes get tricky, especially if you aren't paying them. I suggest setting up expectations early on.  What is the time commitment?  When do you want to see the final product?  What expectations do you have for their communicating their progress to you? -Rachael

2. Set the level of casual/seriousness that you want -- not the level you think your wedding should have. I chose to run my ceremony like a talent show. We heard a little from the officiant, a song, a poem, another song, a little more by the officiant, our own written vows, and a quick ending. It was important to me to have clapping in between each act -- smiles, laughter, and touching moments too. Jokes were encouraged, fumbles were perfectly ok, and smiles were essential. -Anna

3. Large wedding parties can be incredibly fun and I wouldn't change a thing about my Bridal Party.  But you need to go into it really understanding the extra stress involved when scheduling around so many people and their varying schedules. -Rachael

4. It can be so difficult to choose a wedding party. But I think in the end you just have to follow your heart, and trust that your loved ones will love you whether they are sitting or standing during your wedding. If you think about it, it really doesn't matter, because everyone ends up on the great equalizer together by the end of the night (the dance floor). -Anna

5. When it comes to the physical aspects of your wedding prioritize the things that are really important to you and keep coming back to those.  For my husband and I, the food, finding a venue that didn't require us to put our friends/family to work, and the right photographer were our top three.  So that's where the bulk of our budget went. Having that clarity made it easier to cut things like centerpieces, wedding cake, party favors, things that in the end we didn't really care about. -Rachael

6. If you don't have tons and tons of time to plan a wedding, pony up for a venue that provides a planner and staff. Initially I thought the venue that I chose was way too expensive but then I thought -- wait. They provide a ceremony planner, reception planner, food, bar, decorations, valet, and a crap ton of other things? Worth it. DIY weddings are a blast I'm sure, but too much work for this gal! -Anna

7. "You will not remember what your wedding looked like, you will remember what it felt like." The Wedding industry is a multi-billion dollar industry. It is designed to play on your emotions and make you spend, spend, spend.  So when you start thinking you need customized napkins, step away and remember, no one will remember what it looked like, they will remember what it felt like. -Rachael

8. Try not to kill your husband before you're even married. Remember your partner might not be as good at this stuff as you are. If you're better at this kind of stuff, or you have more time to do it, just suck it up and do the work, and try to remember how much you love him. Also remember that it's normal to have the wedding planning process be messy. You're normal, ok?! It's ok! You're gonna be ok!! -Anna

9. Weddings are expensive.  So always ask for a discount at every single vendor.  If you have a set amount you can spend on something, but your dream vendor is waaaay above that. ASK. I was able to work with some incredible vendors that are normally way out of my price range simply by asking what they could offer me for X amount. This is especially true if you are getting married on an "off day" like a Sunday or a weekday. -Rachael

10. Like Rachael said, if you want a cheaper wedding, do it in off season (November-ish to April-ish), and on an off-day. You will spend literally half the money you otherwise would. -Anna

And above all else -- be grateful. Be so, so grateful for it all! -Rachael and Anna

And now Pictures!

Lady Bit Rachael and her husband, Andy

Lady Bit Anna and Man Bit Tom

 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Rachael's Restaurant Review - The Mill Northeast

My dear friend Elise and I went to check out The Mill Northeast this week for dinner.  I didn't know what to expect as I hadn't heard of it before, but I was pleasantly surprised! The vibe is upscale hipster, and the food is delicious and generously portioned.  You could easily split an entree or sandwich and be full.  And that, thrifty bits, is always a good thing!

The Mill Northeast-1851 Central Ave NE Minneapolis, MN 55418
Rating - 8 out of 10 
 


I had a cup of mushroom soup which was creamy, savory and had a wonderful depth of flavor to it.  If it's on special when you are there I highly recommend it. 

I followed that up with the Jack Burger (candied bacon, white cheddar, fried egg, lettuce, tomato, onion, and tarragon aioli).  The burger was well cooked, and I love a fried egg on a burger.  I don't have much of a sweet tooth so I think regular bacon would have satisfied my palate better, but for most the combination of sweet and salty will please.

All in all, The Mill Northeast is a welcome addition to Central Ave. and adds a great option for those in the neighborhood who want a slightly more upscale but casual place to grab a drink and a nice meal.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Rachael's Restaurant Reviews - Butcher & The Boar

This is my favorite restaurant in the Twin Cities, and maybe ever.  Andy and I look for any excuse possible to treat ourselves to a Butcher & the Boar meal.   This time around? Well, we've been married for 1 month, so that counts right?! Right! To Butcher & the Boar we go!

Butcher & The Boar -  1121 Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55403
Rating- 12 out of 10 (yes it's that good)  
  
   Caramelized Broccoli                        Taleggio Pancetta Mac & Cheese      
 
                                                            Berkshire Pork Spare Ribs                          Bourbon Flight

Butcher & the Boar is a James Beard Award Semi-Finalist so you know they are doing something (everything) right.  Not only is the food incredible but the service is top notch.  Last night I sat on my napkin when I came back from the restroom and was looking around for it, within 20 seconds my server was there asking if he could help me find something.  I told him that I think I must have sat on my napkin and he went and got me another one so I didn't have to stand up! WHAT?! That's just stupid good service. 

As the name suggests Butcher & the Boar is not for the vegetarian minded, this place is for the unabashed meat lover.  And remember that 12 out of 10 rating I gave this place? Well, you are going to pay for it, this place is not cheap (although there are more inexpensive options, it's just, we're celebrating over here okay?). 

I have tried many menu items over a few visits, and I have never been disappointed in anything but these are my "must try" items if you are only going once. These are the menu items that were so good, I kind of wanted to cry a little bit.

Taleggio Pancetta Mac & Cheese
Smoked Beef Long Rib- Tabasco-molasses BBQ 
Red Hot Brussels Sprouts

This meal easily feeds two, in fact I bet you and your dining partner will have leftovers. Lucky!
Berkshire Pork Spare Ribs
  Smoked Beef Long Rib

If you want to try the deliciousness but not spend a ton of money, check out their more casual Beer Garden Menu served outside year round in a cozy heated tent.  I haven't been to that side yet, but if it's even half as good as their main menu, it'll be twice as good as most places. GO NOW!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Helpful tips for talking to friends with infertility issues

-- The following is a guest post from our secret lady friend who chooses to remain anonymous until a baby kangaroo is officially put into her mama pouch -- 

First, an update:

Infertile Myrtle here, still trying against the odds to get knocked up. I’m currently on my third hormone cycle post-miscarriage. The first failed even though we did everything right. The second failed because we missed the fertile window. A few days after the last hormone pill, I take ovulation predictor tests (which are similar to pregnancy tests in that they detect the hormone levels in your urine) until they show I’m at peak fertility. We then do the deed that day and the next. I took the tests for 10 days in a row and got the blinking smiley face that indicates high fertility, but never the steady smiley that indicates peak. My doctor had me come in for a progesterone reading the following week. My level was so low they were pretty sure it wasn’t going to happen for me that month, but they wanted me in for an ultrasound a few days afterward to be sure. Because they had been pretty sure it was a no-go, I didn’t bother trying to get in the mood in the intervening days. But then my ultrasound showed that I had probably ovulated the day after my progesterone test, meaning it was too late to try the baby dance. Incredibly frustrating.

In addition to the hormones I’m taking in my current cycle (still 50 mgs of Clomid), my doctor wants me to try Ovidrel, which is a pre-filled syringe that I have to inject into my lower abdomen once I’ve confirmed peak fertility with the ovulation tests. As far as I understand it, it doesn’t cause ovulation, but it helps the body to release a mature egg. I’m not a huge fan of needles and the thought of injecting myself kind of makes me want to hurl, but I am so ready to be done with all this that I’m willing to try it. Bonus: at my baseline ultrasound last week the nurse told me my ovaries looked “awesome” and were “rock stars.” She also said she knows I must feel like my body is failing me, but she was very confident it would happen for me soon. Here’s hoping.

And now, the advice:

My miscarriage in June was hands-down the hardest thing I’ve ever had to go through. I’m not “over it” yet, and probably never will be. An aspect of all of this I’d never considered was having to deal with other people’s ignorant, unhelpful, and sometimes downright cruel reactions to my news. I completely understand how awkward it is to try to be supportive while navigating someone else’s tragedy, and I’m choosing to believe that no one meant to be a big ol’ jerk, so I thought it might be helpful to put together a little guide for being good friends to your good friends when they’re going through Hard Times.

What TO do:

-If you’re at a loss for words, say that. When I hear, “I’m so sorry you’re going through that. I don’t know what to say,” it shows me that you are there for me. You might not be able to express how you feel, but I at least know you’re listening and that is HUGELY important. Not many people are in on this; validate my choice to include you.

-Be an active listener. If you don’t understand a medical term, ask for a definition. Ask follow-up questions.

-Be there, period. Invite your friend to hang out in private spaces where they can have a good cry if they need to. Be OK if they decline. Keep inviting them. Keep asking how they’re doing, too. If they’re up for it, talking through their feelings can help them process what happened.

-Be understanding. Certain activities, like attending baby showers or even “liking” other people’s baby pictures on Facebook, is going to be very difficult for them for a while. I’ve blocked many new parents from my newsfeed for the time being because it just hurts too much to see. I am legitimately happy for them and I’m not saying they should self-censor; it’s more of a self-preservation thing. 

What NOT to do: 

-Start a statement with, “At least...” I cannot tell you how many people reacted to my miscarriage with, “At least you know you can get pregnant!” Not the point. When you say, “At least...” in response to someone telling you they’re hurting, it diminishes their problem.

-Give unsolicited medical advice. Unless you’re my doctor or my husband, you’re not part of that conversation. I’m coming to you for support, not a new treatment plan. I had a conservative friend beg me not to get a D & C (a process by which the leftover tissue from a pregnancy is removed to prevent further loss of blood) because it is the same procedure used in abortions. I obviously did not want to have to have the procedure – I didn’t want any of this – and thankfully I didn’t end up needing it. But I trust my doctor and if she tells me something is medically necessary I’m going to listen.

-Be careful with the non-medical advice, too. People very close to my situation are still telling me that it would all happen if I just relaxed. Girlfriend, all the yoga in the world is not going to make my body suddenly start popping out eggs on its own. I try my hardest to stay zen at all times because that’s just a healthier way to live, but telling me to relax is a surefire way to get my BP skyrocketing. I also had someone tell me in response to news of my miscarriage, “Keep having that sex! It’ll happen!”

This is hard stuff, made even harder because it’s not something most people want to talk about publicly. Help your buddies by being sensitive and supportive. Have advice of your own? Share it in the comments!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Rachael's Restaurant Reviews- Hola Arepa

I ate at Hola Arepa's food truck on my birthday last year and was blown away by how good it was.  When I heard they opened a brick and mortar spot, I quickly grabbed some friends to go eat some Arepas pronto!

First, a culinary lesson. What's an Arepa you ask?  Well that varies by country and place. But generally speaking, an Arepa is a thick patty made out of corn maize/corn meal and then either cooked on a griddle, fried or even steamed.  It is most commonly associated with Venezuelan and Columbian cuisine. The patty is then stuffed with braised meat, vegetables, cheeses, eggs, you name it.  Think of it as an incredibly delicious Colombian tortilla.

Hola Arepa- 3501 Nicollet Ave. S, Minneapolis, MN 55408
Rating- 9


The Order:
Shredded Beef & Plantain Arepa- Sweet plantain, black beans, hola sauce, cotija cheese, pickled onion
Delicious. the beef was so wonderfully flavorful and juicy. The cotija cheese added a wonderful bite and creaminess.The plantains were sweet, the pickled onions spicy, and the Arepa was crispy on the outside and hot and perfect on the inside. This is what Friday tastes like.  I added extra Hola Sauce and some homemade salsa to mine because I like things spicy. Ahhh, I want one again right now.

Yuca- with aioli verde or chimi churi sauce (we got both)
These were good Yuca fries.  Very crispy on the outside, and fluffy on the inside.  I tend to like mine a tad bit thinner, and thought Brasa's version was better. But, overall worth the order for sure. But per usual, I would drink the dipping sauces with a straw if I wasn't guaranteed to get weird looks.

Tortilla Chips-  With 3 salsas
Clearly homemade chips, and the salsas were all incredibly delicious.

Solveig & Hibiscus Tonic Cocktail- Far north gin & house made hibiscus tonic
Wow. Please do not leave Hola Arepa without getting one of their house made cocktails.  Everything about this drink was exactly what I wanted.  It looked incredible, it tasted refreshing and summery, this is happiness in a beautiful small hand corked bottle. 

If I haven't made it clear enough already, GO! The food is fantastic, the atmosphere is great, and the drinks are wonderful.  This spot is clearly popular and when we went on a Friday night at 7pm, we had to wait about an hour for a table. On the plus side, once we were seated the service was fast and food came straight away. If you want to avoid a long wait try a weekday, or come for dinner closer to 8pm when the line started to dwindle.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Rachael's Restaurant Reviews- Kiku Bistro

Sometimes it's so hot you just can't imagine eating anything that is even remotely warm.  Enter Sushi! The perfect summer dinner.  Andy and I have been going to Kiku Bistro for a few years now.  It's close to where we live, you can sit outside, there is always a $10 off coupon floating around somewhere in our "junk mail" pile, and they have a crazy long happy hour.

Kiku Bistro- 2819 Hennepin Ave.S. Minneapolis, MN 55408
Rating- 7.5


Okay you thrifty bits, Kiku Bistro's Happy Hour is insane. The Happy Hour Hours are (drumroll...)
Monday-Thursday: 4:30pm-7:30pm & 9pm-Close
Friday: 3pm-7:30pm & 9pm-Close
Saturday & Sunday: ALL DAY
Do you realize what this means? On most days there is only about an hour and a half when it is NOT Happy Hour. Thank You Kiku Bistro! 

 The Order: 
Caterpillar Roll- Eel – Cucumber – Kanpyo – Avocado
 I love me some Avocado.  Eel isn't my favorite Sushi but it is Andy's so we usually end up with some type of Eel roll. Rice is sticky, sauce is deep and salty. Yumm. 

Lake Calhoun Roll-Tempura Shrimp – Avocado – Spicy Crab - Crunch
I love the crispy bits on top of this.  The special sauce adds a nice spicy, creaminess to the roll and I love the crispy tempura Shrimp combined with the Avocado inside. Very well balanced textures.

Spicy Tuna Roll- Not much to say about this one except that it's Spicy Tuna and I like it.
 
Now, clearly I am a fan of Kiku Bistro.  Mainly because it's pretty good sushi for a good price and I always have a coupon.  Is it the best Sushi in the world? Nope. Is it even the best Sushi in the Twin cities? Probably not. But is it a great deal and a fun place to have a quick happy hour? You betcha. So go. Because I want to make sure it stays open. K? Please?


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Rachael's Restaurant Reviews- Brasa

Andy and I found ourselves with a rare night off last night and decided to have an impromptu date night.  I had been wanting to try Brasa for a while now because I consistently hear amazing things about it.  So off we went to North Minneapolis in search of "comfort food inspired by the creole cooking traditions of the Americas and Caribbean."

Brasa: Premium Rotisserie, 600 E Hennepin Ave. Minneapolis, MN 55414
Rating- 7


 Brasa's menu is organized by proteins, sides, bowls, breads and sandwiches.  Most items are designed for sharing (or not).  You can order small, medium and large sizes depending on whether you're trying to feed the table or just yourself. We decided to order one bowl, one protein and two sides. 

The Order: 
Smoked Beef- "Braised & Seasoned with Sweet-Spicy BBQ Sauce"
Here's the thing, I was underwhelmed by this dish but Andy loved it. So perhaps take my review with a grain of salt?  I also admittedly feel like my being underwhelmed is party my own fault.  Braising means you sear the meat and then slow cook it in a cooking liquid of your choice to break down the connective tissue and make the meat very tender.  So, I was expecting juicy beef that had been braised in BBQ sauce. I wanted the sweet and tangy goodness to be infused in every salty rich bite.  Instead I got what was nicely braised beef (meaning it did reach desired tenderness) with a small ladle of BBQ sauce added on top right before they bring it to your table.  To be fair, the description says "seasoned with" BBQ sauce, not "marinated in" BBQ sauce. My fault.  Even still, braising is a method of cooking that can infuse meat with an incredible amount of flavor, and I felt this dish was lacking the intense flavor I was hoping for.

Pork & Over Easy Egg Bowl- "Yellow Rice, Jalapeno Spinach & Red Sauce" 
If you are just ordering for you, and not planning to share, I recommend ordering one of the bowls.  This is a lot of bang for your buck people.  It has rice, spinach, slow roasted pork, egg, crispy onions and sauce all for about 9 bucks.  The rice was a wonderful golden color, flavorful and fluffy. While the spinach was good, I couldn't detect even a hint of Jalapeno. Since I like spicy food, that was disappointing. The slow roasted pork was tender and savory, good marks there. The over easy egg was perfectly cooked and when you broke the yolk it infused the dish with that extra layer of depth you want from good comfort food. Brava Brassa! The red sauce, on the other hand, like the Jalapeno was hard to detect. 

Crispy Yuca with Citrus & Garlic
I'm not always a fan of Yuca. When it's done well, I LOVE it. When it's not crisped correctly, it's terrible.  Brasa's Yuca was fantastic.  Nicely sized slices of Yuca fried up to perfection.  Good and crispy on the outside and fluffy, not dry, on the inside. The citrus garlic dipping sauce they came with? I would drink that with a straw if they had brought me one.  This was probably the best dish we ordered.

Cornbread & Beans
I love cornbread.  It's essentially an excuse to eat butter and honey in heaps.  Everyone likes their cornbread differently. Some like it dense and substantial. Others like it fluffy and more cake like.  Some prefer it served hot, others feel it's better at room temperature or even slightly chilled. I like mine warm, and somewhere in between the dense and fluffy consistency. For me, the cornbread at Brasa was too dense and too cold.  It also lacked any flavor standing on it's own.  It was significantly improved by the butter and honey (but really what food isn't?). The baked red beans were perfectly cooked, but again lacked the intense flavor I'm looking for in Creole inspired cooking.  They didn't have that deep molasses flavor that's balanced by the starchy beans and tang of BBQ sauce. 

I know it might read as if I didn't enjoy my meal at Brasa.  Don't get me wrong, the food was good, I'd venture to say most people who eat there would say it is really really good.  But as someone who has had exceptional creole inspired comfort food, I just wanted to take the flavor nodule on everything and crank it up, up, up!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

A Letter to My First(never)born

-- The following is a guest post from our secret lady friend who chooses to remain anonymous until a baby kangaroo is officially put into her mama pouch -- 

Dear Baby,

I saw you for the first and last time today. You were small, the size of a dime on the black and white screen. It was the first visual proof I had that you were real after weeks of only getting the levels of hormones in my blood. I tricked myself into thinking I could see your heart beat when the nurse moved the camera this way and that in my uterus. But that would be impossible. You never got big enough to grow a heart.

I had been so looking forward to this moment, the moment I’d first get to see you, since the glorious morning I learned of your existence. I’d convinced myself it was another wasted month, and was entirely expecting another depressed morning after another negative test. Instead, it said, “Pregnant,” clear as day. I gasped and raced down the stairs to your dad. “Look!” I choked through the tears. He smiled and hugged me tight and we laughed and cried and couldn’t believe it. You made us so happy, Baby.

I spent the next week smiling to myself with the knowledge you were inside of me. I found myself resting my hand on my belly, protectively. Everything I ate and did was in service of making you  stronger. You were too small for me to feel you, but I could feel my body changing around you. My ab muscles ached where my womb was stretching and my breasts grew heavy and full.

We narrowed down the list of names we started two years ago. We thought about whether we should start clipping diaper coupons and stock up now. We argued about whether we should turn the office or the guest room into your room.

We couldn’t wait to tell our parents and friends. You were so wanted, Baby. I imagined them shrieking and weeping with joy when we shared the happy news. I wanted to spill the beans right away, but I also wanted to be careful about telling them too soon. My HCG (the pregnancy hormone) was low to begin with and continued to have a very slow rise. I had blood draws every few days—to the point where I had bruises on the insides of my arms—and every time I expected the doctor to call and say the level had finally doubled like it was supposed to and I could stop worrying. 

Instead they called me on Tuesday to say they thought it might be an ectopic pregnancy. There was still a chance it could proceed normally, they said, and I clung to that hope for dear life. They called me Thursday and told me I would definitely miscarry. The grief was…is… almost overwhelming. We had imagined a whole, wonderful future for you. We already loved you so much, Baby.

There are some who don’t understand this consuming sadness. We never got to hold you in our arms, never got to talk to you or read to you or sing to you, never got to kiss your little head, and to them that means we should chalk it up to a loss and move on. But that doesn’t change the fact that you changed me, changed us, in the short time your cells were dividing. 

I’ll always be grateful to you, Baby, because I got to be your mom, even if it was only for a little bit. No matter what comes afterward, you’ll always be my first(never)born.

Love,
Mama

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Rachael's Restaurant Reviews- Blue Door Pub Longfellow

Last night Andy and I were both craving burgers, fries and beer so we headed to The Blue Door Pub's new Minneapolis location in the Longfellow neighborhood.  We like to order two different things and then go half-sies so we can try two different menu items.  Just one of the reasons I love that man.

Blue Door Pub- 3448 42nd Ave. S. Minneapolis, MN 55406
Rating- 8.5 (Would have ranked higher if they had better fries and a larger tap beer list)

The Order:
The Humpty Burger with Fries- "Ellsworth cheese curds fill the inside, while a slow poached egg and Irish rashers huddle up on top."
 Ok, I had no idea what an "Irish rasher" was when I ordered this.  Turns out it's Irish Bacon which is probably closest to what we'd call country style ham. Great! Now when they serve this to you, they bring an egg still in its shell to your table, they have you lift off the bun and they crack the egg right on to your burger and then smash it with your bun allowing for all the amazing runny yolk to drip into the ham and the burger meat.  To me, this is an extremely soft boiled egg.  Delicious, yes. But not a poached egg. A poached egg is cooked by cracking it into boiling water.  Am I mistaken? Am I being too harsh? Honestly it doesn't matter because the end result is amazing. And if that isn't enough squeeky melty cheese curds ooze out of the center when you take a bite. Sign me up to eat this every day until my heart gives out. The fries were a bit under seasoned, good crispy texture but underwhelming overall.

The Jiffy Burger with Cajun Style Tots- "Crunchy Peanut Butter, a little mayo, pepper jack cheese, pickles and bacon." 
 Ok, stick with me.  You might be thinking Peanut Butter on a Burger?! With Mayo?! As the menu says "You've got to try it to be a believer." We almost ordered it without the Mayo because we were scared. I'm glad the bar tender talked us out of it.  The mayo is so subtle you can't taste it but it really adds to the experience by marinating the burger so that it stays juicy, balanced and the peanut butter doesn't become too sticky in your mouth.  This burger was such a crazy wonderful combination of salty, savory goodness with the bacon and pickles and then the subtle sweetness of the white bun and peanut butter just pushed it over the edge of deliciousness. The Cajun style tots were just what you want out of a tot.  Nicely flavored, good and crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside. 

Point is, GO! GO now if you want delicious, unique burger concoctions.  Andy and I decided we want to try every burger on their "Blucys" Menu, maybe you can join us!?

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Rachael's Restaurant Reviews - Bone Yard

Hello Lady Bits! The reason I love to cook is mainly because I love to eat delicious food, so naturally I also love to go out and try new restaurants. And I've decided to start reviewing them for you!

Bone Yard: 2841 Hennepin Ave. S. Minneapolis 55408
Rating: 6.5 out of 10 (I'm pretty tough!)

Recently my best friend James and I tried the new Uptown restaurant, Bone Yard http://boneyarduptown.com.  It's a country-style upscale cowboy type atmosphere.  Think plaid western shirts and jeans, exposed wood beams and cast iron skillets on the wall. For you local folk, it's where the Old Chicago used to be. We arrived around 6:40pm on a Monday and were pleasantly surprised to find out they were still on happy hour! 4pm-7pm M-F for you thrifty bits.  So we went a little hog wild and ordered enough for the entire restaurant. We ordered the Fried Chicken Po' Boy with Cottage Fried Potatoes, Beef Brisket Tacos, Fried Mac N Cheese Bites, Crab Hush Puppies, Pit Ham Sliders, and Smoked & Spicy Dry Rub Wings.  When they brought out the food the two hostesses continued to pass by our table with confused looks until James and I spoke up and assured them that "yes all that food is for us. Yes, they did have the correct table number and yes we do plan on eating it all."


 The Brisket Tacos were the highlight.  The brisket was flavorful and juicy, the pickled onions added the right amount of acidic tang and the smoked chile ailoi gave the necessary kick to pull together a nicely balanced taco.  The Pit Ham Sliders were also quite delicious.  Nice thick smoked ham slices on cheddar biscuits with homemade hot pepper jelly.  The salty sweet of the ham combined with the spicy peppers all on top of a  fluffy but still substantial biscuit? Render this diner happy.  The wings were standard, nothing to write home about but certainly satisfying enough to order again.  The Fried Mac N Cheese Bites were disappointing, bland and in need of a sharper cheddar (and double the amount) as well as a dash of cayenne (or any spices really!).  The Crab Hush Puppies were also just so so, as the corn meal was nicely prepared but the crab meat was used so sparingly they might as well not used it at all. But the spicy curry mustard aioli dipping sauce the crab hush puppies were served with? Delightfully delicious. I'd order that stuff on the side forever!  I have to admit I didn't get to try the Po' Boy as my eyes were bigger than my stomach and I was done by this point in the night.  But I will say it was huge for a Happy Hour item. It came with a whole basket full of twice fried potato medallions (cottage fried potatoes) and two big pieces of fried chicken on top of fluffy white bread with lettuce, tomato and jalapenos.  I'm not sure Po' Boy is the right name for it, as it just looked like a fried chicken sandwich. but I guess I'll just have to go back and try it for myself.

All and all I'd say The Bone Yard is worth the trip especially on a Monday night when you feel like eating your weight in country fried food. Which I do, most of the time.

Monday, May 19, 2014

A check in with Infertile Myrtle

-- The following is a guest post from our secret lady friend who chooses to remain anonymous until a baby kangaroo is officially put into her mama pouch -- 

Since the last time I checked in, I tested positive as a carrier for a one genetic disorder, the mister’s swimmers tested positive for awesomeness, I started on hormones to make me ovulate, I signed up with a new pregnancy app called Glow, I ovulated (yay!), I convinced myself I was pregnant, and I convinced myself I was not pregnant.

I’m currently at the tail end of my “Two-Week Wait” – the 15 days post-ovulation before your period comes when all you can do is overanalyze every twinge in your abdomen and wonder what exactly is going on in there. I excitedly went through a list of early pregnancy symptoms with Hubs last weekend, fairly certain that I had enough of them to indicate I had a baby baking. Tiredness? Check! Bloatiness? Check! Lower back pain? You better believe it! His response was, “[Wife], you literally spend every night farting and begging me to rub your back before you fall asleep on the couch at 9:00.” 

Fair point.

After about a week of fantasizing about an adorable tot drunk-baby-walking through a beautiful meadow at sunset, I woke up on Wednesday feeling pretty certain this wasn’t my month. Nothing changed, per se; I just had a strong sense my womb was empty after all. This feeling was further validated by my plummeting basal body temperature, which is an indication Aunt Flo is on her way.

I just want to be done with this, you know? My insurance doesn’t cover infertility, so each doctor’s visit is hundreds of dollars out of pocket. Each ultrasound to check my follicle growth, despite lasting less than five minutes, is another $100 or so. We’re so fortunate that we can afford it, and that we’re not yet at the point where the visits are costing in the thousands instead of in the hundreds. But still. Boo.

The upside is that if I’m indeed not pregnant, I’ll be able to sign up for short-term disability insurance so I can have a source of income during maternity leave. I was completely na├»ve about how that worked… I had always assumed I would just get paid for the full three months I’d be out. Not so; my employer will continue to cover my benefits during that time, but I’d have to use up my sick and vacation time to get any cash money. Did you know that out of 185 countries surveyed by the United Nations labor agency, America is one of three countries (and the only western one) that doesn’t offer at least partially paid maternity leave? Call your representative and tell him/her that that shit is whack.

I’ll know for sure what’s going on in there early next week, but I’m steeling myself for another round of the hormones. Hopefully the second time’s the charm!

*****

Part of my infertility journey has been figuring out how much of it I want to share. As I mentioned in my last post, I feel strongly that if I had known how incredibly common it was to go through infertility issues, I probably would not have felt so devastatingly alone and scared upon getting diagnosed with PCOS. I’m not yet at the point where I want my name attached to these posts (though my identity is one of the world’s most solvable mysteries), but I still feel like it’s an important conversation to have.

I went to lunch on Friday with a coworker who struggled to get pregnant for several years before having twins this spring via surrogate. We talked about how lame it is that most people know nothing about infertility until they’re going through it. They don't talk about it in sex ed; that's for sure. She said it wasn’t until she miscarried that a whole cadre of women came out of the woodwork to offer their support.

Now, when people tell her how great she looks for having just given birth to twins, she’s very open about the fact that they were carried by a surrogate. She’s not ashamed – and why should she be?

We teared up several times during our meal, particularly when she said these two things:

“You have to keep sharing your story.”

And also:

“It was so worth it. Everything. All of it.”

Friday, March 28, 2014

What Type Of Salad Are You?

I walked into my coworker's office the other day to eat my lunch (because I'm a people person and eating my lunch at my cubicle gets boring), and she took one look at my salad and said "that is the crunchiest salad I've ever seen." I looked down and saw she was totally right. In my glass pyrex bowl (which also immediately upped the crunchyness) was kale, quinoa, edamame, sliced almonds and avocado. And the first thing that I thought of was that if there was Buzzfeed quiz about salads, I would totally be the Whole Foods Saladbar person. Now a small little part of me hates being that person, but I also fully embrace it because my salad might be crunchy but it is DELICIOUS. And the best thing is that you can make it at home and not spend all your money at the salad bar!



The Who Needs Whole Foods Salad
(ironically, all these ingredients were bought at Whole Foods but that's neither here nor there)

1 cup of cooked quinoa
1 bunch of lacinato/dino kale
2 avocados
1 bell pepper
Half a bag of frozen shelled edamame
Handful of almonds, sliced
Two lemons
Olive oil

1) Cut up your kale into tiny little bite size strips and put it in a bowl. Cut your lemons in half and squeeze lemon juice on top of the kale. Add a bit of olive oil (depends how lemony you want your salad) and mix it all together. Let it sit and absorb for a good 30 minutes.
2) Boil up some water and cook your edamame. Drain and let it cool.
3) Cut up your bell pepper and almonds.
4) Mix everything together! Add salt and pepper to taste.
5) Cut up your avocado and place on top.
6) Enjoy!

All these ingredients gives you about two and a half servings and I actually make it in bulk and then just cut up the avocado for when I'm ready to eat it. Then the kale gets even softer and yummier to eat the longer it hangs out with the lemon juice. In the fridge it should last 2-3 days depending on how fresh your produce is.


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Behold the bun maker!


I'm feeling bunnier than ever.
I bought a Conair bun maker from Walgreens a year ago but my hair was not long enough to use it at the time. (Due to a rogue bleaching experience, I have determined that my hair grows approximately one and a half inches per year. The average is 6 inches per year.) 

Cut to a year later, I pulled that saucy bun maker out of the closet last night and WHAMMY  my hair is long enough now. 

It's very easy to use. You just make a pony, wrap the bun maker once around the top of the pony, wrap your hair around that and cover up all the mesh parts, then put a hairband and bobby pins around all of that jazz. Bing bang boom. Voluptuous ballerina hair for $3.49. Enjoy yourself!

Monday, March 17, 2014

How to make your feet and shoes stank way less

One of my favorite comedians is Amber Preston. I feel like she is a comedian of the people. If those people are me.

In her set, she likes to give you some fun facts about herself right off the bat. One of those facts is that she uses a special foot powder from New Zealand to curb her foot-smell issues. She later circles back to this fact, letting you know that so many women ask her about the foot powder that she simply worked it into her set, and then gives you all the details about where to find it and why it's so great. Which is one of the many reasons why SHE is so great.

Here it is, friends. Gran's Remedy! Here to solve all your foot stank problems. You just sprinkle a little bit in your shoes after you wear them, and it dries that shoe right up overnight while eliminating odor. I find it particularly useful for Toms-brand shoes, which are the stankiest shoes in all of shoe land.

I ordered my jar straight from the company, but you can also get it on Amazon. My little jar has lasted me over a year and it's not even half gone. I even got all fancy-like and bought a makeup brush to brush the powder on the footbed of the shoe instead of using the provided sprinkle spoon.

Amber, thank you for sharing this amazing product with the world. And thank you for sharing your comedy with people who love you not despite your feet stank, but BECAUSE of it.

Monday, March 10, 2014

How to make hair static go away for the rest of your g-damned life


A few years ago I was so fed up with winter temperatures and things like coats and scarves making my hair full of static that the only thing I could think of to do was go to the hairdresser and get a bunch of my hair cut off. 

But as any of you who live in a cold climate know, shorter hair just means shorter hair still filled with static. So I just lived with it, trying to dunk my hair in water every time I went by a water fountain, or sometimes becoming so desperate that I used my own saliva to mat it down. 

Until my hairdresser turned me on to THIS little guy. Moroccan Oil. I don't know anything about it except what you can see on the bottle, and that it came from the place I get my hair cut (The Fox Den at 704 W. 22nd St, Minneapolis).

If I spray a little spritz of that golden static juice, my hair stays straight down all day, only touching me in appropriate ways. Not clinging to my face for dear life, trying to get into my mouth and eyes and driving me nut-balls crazy. 

If you're not able to get down to The Fox Den, I was able to find it on Amazon. Enjoy your new life!

Friday, March 7, 2014

An update from Infertile Myrtle

-- The following is a guest post from our secret lady friend who chooses to remain  anonymous until a baby kangaroo is officially put into her mama pouch --

You know what’s weird? Seeing a guy in army fatigues walk into a doctors office and know exactly why he’s there: dude’s about to get his swimmers tested. Today I sat in the waiting room of the U of M Reproductive Medical Center and watched the couples coming in and wondered what their stories were. But a guy there on his own? Semen analysis. 100%.

 ***** 

Hi, friends! Maybe you were wondering whatever happened to Possibly Pregnant Polly. It’s more likely you didn’t give me a second thought. But hi! I’m back. And still sans enfant. Please allow me to fill you in on what’s happened (and hasn’t happened) in the past seven months.

What hasn’t happened is my period. After Flo came to town in July, she abandoned me, seemingly for good. I was expecting this, since I had gone for long… er… periods of time without menstruating the two times I went off the pill during my decade- long Birth Control Bonanza. Both times my gyno prescribed me a hormone called Provera to kick start a period so I could get back on the pill.

Anyway, back in October I had a physical with a new GP who seemed completely unconcerned when I told him it’d been many moons since I’d had my womanly courses. He told me not to worry.

But worry I did. I started a routine of taking pregnancy tests every three weeks or so, because I couldn’t be sure if I wasn’t having a period because I was pregnant or because I was broken. (One of the notes in my pregnancy tracker app says, “Today I answered the question of bloated or pregnant with ‘bloated.’”) Each time I promised myself I wouldn’t be upset when I got the inevitable negative. Each time I cried a little bit, and left the test out where my husband could see it so he’d know why I had The Sads that day.

By the time December rolled around, I confided in a close gal pal that I was coming up on six months without a period. She made me promise to see my regular lady doc, which I did in January. She ordered a bevy of hormonal tests, put me on Provera to force a period, and referred me to the clinic’s infertility specialist, Dr. K. I saw Dr. K the next week, and he told me that based on the results of my blood tests he suspected I had Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.

WHICH TOTALLY SOUNDS LIKE CANCER.

I freaked out and started blubbering while he asked me if I had noticed an increase in acne or male-pattern hair growth on the face, chest, or belly (no to all). He explained that it was a genetic disorder that causes an imbalance in the hormones, leading to cysts on the ovaries that cause women to menstruate infrequently or not at all. It’s also associated with diabetes. All I heard was: YOU HAVE MALE HORMONES AND YOU’RE GOING TO GET DIABETES. He ordered more tests and I went off to work, trying (and failing) to keep my shit together.

My health provider lets you check test results online, but the only information they give you is your value and what a normal range is. No other context. According to my results, all of my hormones fell within the normal range. This led me to convince myself his diagnosis was wrong, which made it all the more crushing to return to Dr. K’s office, this time with Hubs in tow, and have him say, “I was right. You have it.” He launched into an explanation of the hormone treatments he wanted to put me on— Provera to stimulate menstruation and then Clomid to stimulate ovulation—but I barely digested any information. I was spiraling way, way down into The Dark Place, and all I could do was sob uncontrollably. 

We went home. I sobbed. I called my mom. I sobbed. I texted my close friends. I sobbed. I had never cried this much in my life. I cried so hard I puked—and I NEVER puke. All the while I tried to synthesize why this news made me feel so devastated. It’s not like I had cancer. No one was dying. But I felt the pain of discovering that something you spend your whole life thinking is a given, something that is obviously in the cards for you, suddenly… isn’t.

I think the reason I felt that way is that infertility is not something you hear about unless someone close to you is going through it. Facebook, at least at this stage in my life, is a constant deluge of pregnancy and birth announcements. Not one of my friends has posted a status about the rigors of IVF, or the tragedy of a miscarriage. If people talked about it more, maybe it would normalize it, just a little. Maybe it wouldn’t feel so devastating. 

 ***** 

Flash forward to today. I saw a new doctor at the U’s Center for Reproductive Medicine, one with whom I felt more comfortable right away. Dr. L talked me through my previous lab results and explained everything to me, making sure I had my questions answered. She did an ultrasound to confirm the PCOS diagnosis, and sure enough, I’m a “classic case.” She ordered a few more blood tests for me, including a genetic screening, and had some special tests for the Huzz as well. We’ll be back in a month to review the results before I go on the hormones, which I feel much better about. It sure would suck to put my body through so much stress only to find out that there’s a problem on his end too.

The most important thing I left the office with is a new sense of confidence about my chances of conceiving. Dr. L told me that if I had to be infertile, this is the kind of infertile I want to be. I’m young, I’m healthy, and I have plenty of eggs; I just need a little help coaxing them out so they can become behbehs.

For the first time in months, I have a positive outlook.

This Friday, Husband will be going into the RMC by himself, and I bet you can guess why. Please send happy thoughts that his swimmers will swim straight and true.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Dress up that Dresser!

When a friend of mine moved a couple of years ago I became the new owner of her old Ikea dresser. Being the frugal lady bit that I am I gladly welcomed this new addition even though the all white color is not exactly my style. Recently I moved into a new apartment that has white walls and white carpet, so this all white dresser became disturbingly boring! Time to make a change! I ordered this contact paper by Isaac Mizrahi for sale on Amazon ($9 for 30 feet!) and went to work.  I think it turned out rather well, what do you think?

                                                                       BEFORE
                                                                       

                                                                         AFTER

Monday, November 4, 2013

Homemade Cinnamon Applesauce

I went to an Apple Orchard this fall with some friends and came home with a mountain of apples.  So what to do with all those apples? Make homemade cinnamon applesauce! It's so easy  I almost don't want to tell you, so you can continue to be uber impressed that I made applesauce from scratch!  But lucky you, I'm in a good mood, and will let you in on this secret.

Ingredients:
6 apples peeled, cored and chopped (I used Heraldson Apples)
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4th cup water or apple cider (I had cider on hand from the same orchard trip so I used that)
1/2 tablespoon of cinnamon

Place all ingredients in a slowcooker
Heat on high for 3 hours or low for 5

basically heat it until when you put a fork in and stir, the apples fall apart and you have applesauce in front of you.


Done! Now go impress some people with your culinary prowess!

Friday, October 18, 2013

An Idaho Girl: Homemade French Fries and Fry Sauce

I am from Idaho, born and raised.  Potatoes are my favorite food, and French Fries are the Queen of Potatoes. Making homemade fries is actually really easy, healthier (because they are baked not fried), and soooo yummy.  Now be an Idahoan and eat those fries with Fry Sauce.

French Fries
Ingredients:
- Idaho Russet Potatoes
- Olive Oil
- Salt


- Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
- Wash and dry the potatoes, don't even think about peeling those skins off.
- Cut into thin strips, you know, like fries.
- Fill a large bowl with salted ice water.
- Place cut potatoes in the ice water.  This draws out some of the starchiness and will help them to get crisp on the outside, fluffy on the inside.
- Drain water and use a paper towel to dry off the cut potatoes.
- Toss potatoes in olive oil, until coated but not sloppy.
- Sprinkle with salt.
- Spread out on a baking sheet in a single layer.
- Bake for about 10 mins and then use a spatula to flip the potatoes.
- Bake for about another 10 mins, take out of oven when they are lightly browned and crisp on the outside.

Fry Sauce
Ingredients:
- Mayo (I like Helmanns)
- Ketchup
- Sriacha or BBQ Sauce

- Mix equal parts Ketchup and Mayo with a splash of either Sriacha or BBQ Sauce. You can adjust the ratios depending on your own taste.

Eat up!