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Archive for October, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

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Dive Night is a semi-monthly adventure undertaken by me and Husby, along with our friends Ruthie and Ray. Each couple alternates choosing a restaurant, one which must come under the category of “dive.” Our definition of dive: a neighborhood gathering spot with a laid-back atmosphere and good food. We’ll find the interesting hang-outs in the Minneapolis/St Paul area. Casual attire required. A sip of beer or wine doesn’t hurt either.

If you live in St. Paul, MN or any of the surrounding areas you’ve probably heard of Mickey’s Diner.  The original is right downtown.  There’s another Mickey’s over there on West 7th away from the bustle of the city but with the same character.*  It’s called Mickey’s Diner (By Willy).  I’m not sure who Willy is.

Mickey’s is the epitome of the word “diner.”

When we arrived there was hardly anyone in the place.  One other couple, to be exact.  The staff consisted of a cook and a bus person.  The building is old and not exactly spotless, but not dirty enough to make me scared of eating there.

Classic Coca-Cola light fixtures.

I love diners with a counter like this. This is pretty much the extent of Mickey’s. The counter on one side of the aisle and small booths on the other. Quite cozy.

Mickey’s even has a bakery case. I didn’t try any of the bakery items, but they looked pretty good. Especially the muffins. I have a thing for muffins.

I thought it was pretty ironic that Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives was on the TV.

We laughed when we saw the Side Orders on the menu.  Whole pieces of meat.  As a side!  I guess it makes sense if you’re getting eggs and you want a steak with them, doesn’t it?  It seemed pretty funny to us though.  Funny ha-ah, not funny peculiar.  Well, I guess it was peculiar too, at least compared to the other places we’ve been.

Four- and eight-ounce steaks as a side.  Or how about a pork chop?

Finally, after consulting with Sam the cook we decided what we wanted.  We started out with an order of onion rings, just because we’re accustomed to getting an appetizer when we’re out for Dive Night.  The rings?  Okay.  I’m not an onion ring connoisseur, but I thought they were pretty average.

This plate of rings was shared by four of us and there were some left when we were done with our meal. Not outstanding by any means, or else we would have been fighting over the last ones.

We ordered our food and Sam the cook got to work.  I like it when you can see the cook making your food.  That’s called “transparency” in the business world.  I feel much better knowing the cook didn’t spit in my food on the off-chance he took a disliking for me.  Of course Sam was of such superior character he would never spit in the food no matter what his personal feelings.

Sam.

Ray had the most unusual meal of the bunch.  It was called One-Eye Jack and was composed of ham, cheese, and egg on toasted bread.  There was a hole cut in the bread/egg, which is what makes the “one eye.”  He got a side of hash browns with that and they looked really good.

Husby had a patty melt with a side of beans.  He said the sandwich was “fine,” but the beans were not great.  They were overdone, cooked and heated up in the microwave.

Husby’s patty melt. It looks pretty good to me – that bread is grilled to perfection.

Tomato-saucy baked beans. I don’t like baked beans anyway, so these look kind of disgusting to me. Husby didn’t like them much.

Ruthie had the Classic.  A cheeseburger with hash browns and some Mulligan stew.  I had the same thing only I got french fries with my hamburger.  The fries were pretty good.  The hamburger was too little for the bun and the cheese was pretty lame.  The menu listed three types of cheese so I asked Sam if I could have Swiss cheese.  He said they have “white” cheese.  He said, “Swiss cheese is white, but our white cheese isn’t Swiss cheese.  We only have the white cheese.”  Whatever.  It was laid lopsided on my burger so only half of it was topped with “white” cheese.

Ruthie’s Classic.  It looks like her cheese is more centered on the burger than mine was.  Those hash browns again ~ boy they look good.

The Mulligan stew was something else too.  Something not so good.  It was luke warm and the potatoes were raw and hard.  I couldn’t eat it.

Um, no.

Overall the food at Mickey’s was pretty bad.  Edible, but nothing I’d go back for.  However, there is something I would go back for.  The malt.  Oh my, what a glorious, thick, whipped cream covered malt.

My chocolate malt. The only thing that would have made this better is if it were served in an old-fashioned soda glass.

By the time we were finished with our meal there were some more people in the diner.  They all sat at the counter and no one spoke.  It was kind of creepy.  But Sam the cook was a delight even though the food he served was mediocre at best.  Seriously though, it’s totally worth a trip for the malts (shakes too).  They come in chocolate, vanilla and strawberry.  Yum!

Sam the cook.

* This review is not intended to reflect the food, service, or atmosphere of the original Mickey’s Diner in downtown St. Paul.

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Last week was kind of a rough one for me.  I wasn’t sleeping well and I had the blues.  At times like that I want to retreat and be away from everyone and everything.  I put on a happy face around people, but it exhausts me to fake it.  Luckily Husby gets it when I’m like that.  He knows conversing with me won’t be particularly engaging or entertaining, so he pretty much leaves me alone to work my way through the bad patch.  As much as I wanted to be completely isolated I was so grateful he was my friend, because one day he gave me this:

Kisses don’t always cure the blues, but chocolate always makes me smile.

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Zooming Around

I miss being here! It seems like I haven’t been writing posts here nearly as much as I should, but quite frankly I’m much too busy.

But that’s a good thing, because once the busyness takes a break I’ll be able to write about everything I’ve done. What could be taking up so much time? How about Dive Night, an anniversary date with Husby, and communing with the dead? Sound good?

For now I’m just going to be flitting around doing stuff. The writing will come later.

I hope everyone has a marvelous weekend!

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There is nothing more frustrating than insomnia, especially if you have to get to work by 6:00 a.m. the next day.  A bout of insomnia on the weekend, however, is a whole different matter.

One weekend I had a really weird pattern of sleep, but I used it to my advantage.  The project: spice cabinet.  The hour: midnight.

Our spice cabinet was a mess.  I tried to keep it organized and put things in alphabetical order, but in so many other ways it was complete chaos.  Spices were stored in different sized containers, because you know buying in bulk is less expensive than buying those little containers every time.  But then when you fill the little plastic container you bought in the first place with the bulk spice you just bought, the bulk stuff doesn’t all fit in the small container, so you have to store the residual bulk stuff somewhere.  More than likely it’s stored somewhere in back where you forget you have it and then when it’s time to fill up that little container again and you know you have some bulk stuff stored somewhere you can’t find it, so you buy another bulk packet of the spice.  This happens with lots of spices, so the cabinet gets fuller and more disorganized as time goes on.  I’d had it.  It was time to change.

The first thing I had to do was empty the cabinet completely.  I was full of energy, even though it was midnight.  The only thing I had to concern myself with was keeping kind of quiet as Husby was fast asleep upstairs.

When I saw the nasty shelf liner I decided to replace that too.  I had some nice green and white liner down in Craftland, which was great because I didn’t want to put the project on hold until I got some shelf liner.

Also lucky for me I was stocked with quite a few spice jars, thanks to Husby.  So I went to work transferring all the spices to same-sized spice jars.  Yes, I had some leftovers, but I organized those all nice and gave them a shelf of their own.  So when I run out of the spice I know exactly where to go to see if I have some more.

The new overflow shelf. Two unopened jars of meat tenderizer? Yes, but there won’t be any more coming into the house until these are gone.

After the shelf liners were in place and the spices were in the jars I got to work printing labels. I wish I could remember where I found the template so I could give some credit. They were the perfect size and just what I wanted.  Once I got them set up and printed out I cut them all out.  Then I stuck them on the jars.  The reason I’m relaying every tiny detail is because if you remember I started this project at midnight.  After each phase of the project I would say to myself, “okay, I’ll just do (the next phase) and then I’m going to bed.”  But I kept going and going.  If you say I was like the Energizer Bunny I might have to push you down.  But it was kind of like that.

Finally everything was done and I could move things back into the cabinet.  Top shelf is the overflow shelf (see picture above).  Second shelf stores the things that I didn’t want to put into spice jars but are used on a fairly regular basis.

Yes, Duck Dynasty fans, that is Phil Robinson’s “zesty” Cajun Style Seasoning. And it’s pretty good.

The very tidy and organized spices. You can’t tell from this picture, but when you look into the cabinet all of the labels are visible, making the search for spices super easy.

And so the clock strikes 5:00 a.m.  Five hours of insomnia put to very good use.  I should spend all of my insomniatic nights like this!  Husby woke up shortly after I finished the project and was very delighted with what he saw.

The finished project. A neat and organized cabinet makes spending time in the kitchen so much more enjoyable.

That’s the story of my spicy night. Too bad Husby slept through it all.

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Sisterly Bonding

The leaves are starting to turn where I live. The midwest will soon be a blaze of oranges, golds, and reds. The golds have already popped on the parkway I travel every day.

Fall is my favorite time of year, and I don’t think I’m alone in that feeling. The hot, sticky summer turns into a cooler, drier autumn, which makes being outside much more pleasant for me. One of the things I do outdoors during the summer and fall is play tennis with Charlotte once a week.

We meet at the P & C tennis courts, easy to get to from both of our houses.  I like playing in the fall because quite frankly I think I’m getting too old to be exerting that much energy in the extremely hot temperatures summer can bring.  Plus, playing in the fall season reminds me of when Charlotte and I both used to play on the high school tennis team, which was a fall sport.

Oh yes, Charlotte and I both look like this, running and leaping like stags.

Our high school tennis coach died not too long ago, but I bet he’d be very proud to see that Charlotte and I are still playing. I’m impressed with Charlotte being able to play so well with her brand new hip! After last night it seems apparent that I might have to get some brand new knees. With our bionics we’d probably play better than we did in high school.

After our tennis date I went home and a storm rolled in. I soaked in a warm bath feeling the endorphins of the evening’s exercise putting a smile on my face.

When the cooler temperatures become downright cold, or when it becomes too dark outside to see a fluorescent green tennis ball, Charlotte and I will pack away our racquets until next summer. For now we’re going to continue to play during these autumn days, enjoying the cooler, colorful evenings and sisterly bonding.

Note to Charlotte:  Sorry about that last phrase, “sisterly bonding.”  It sounds really sappy, but technically that’s what it is.  Plus those people reading this blog post will think we’re like sisters portrayed in a movie; you know those kind who hug each other all the time?  Blog readers really dig that stuff.

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