Thursday, March 31, 2011

Take Me Out to the Ballgame, Baby!

Picture 001
Originally uploaded by MsQuarter

Or, at least let me sit no more than 100 feet away from Prince Fielder and first base.

And Bratwurst, though I may not like to eat you I certainly always enjoy seeing you win the Sausage Race.

Happy Opening Day Brewers fans!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


I haven't lived with a roommate for over 4 years.

Finally I buckled down and let someone move in with me.

It's a big step in grown-up responsibility, you know...compromise and all that.

She doesn't contribute to the monthly rent payment.

She commandeers the best seats for TV viewing.

I sometimes find her trying to steal my food.

But she's adorable.

Kitteh + Sunspot = BFF

She just has this rather unfortunate habit of waking me up at 5:30 AM.

It's not the time so much as the way in which she goes about her self-assigned task.

This morning, for example, she jumped on my stomach and started purring in my face.

She even went so far as to bat her little paw on my nose.


Before I gently pushed her off me and rolled over for more Z's.

Nothing doing.

She simply pounced on my back and started flapping her tail on my shoulder.

I thought only dogs wagged their tails.

Sweetness can be deceiving.

Needless to say, she's better than that other alarm clock that required me to solve math problems before I could turn it off.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Blimey! That's a brilliant job opportunity!

Have seen this job opportunity for Choc Star Van???

Do you think they'd hire an American?

Across the pond
Somewhat related...Escape from Fitzwalkerstan
Summer in England - festivals, weddings, parties, oh my!
24/7 with the C word - CHOCOLATE
Have you seen my cooking blog?
Have you seen my future career aspiration?

You're telling me a gal like me - past festival planner and hospitality worker, current (part) event planner and public relations pro - wouldn't be great for this opportunity???

Driving on the left side of the road would take some getting used to

Yep, that's it for Cons, because, quite frankly, there aren't any.

I'm salivating.

I mean, check out the Choc Star site.

Now you're salivating.

Where do I sign up?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Belated Accountability

I don't always give something up for Lent. I talked about this a bit last year when I gave up unpronouncable chemicals.

It was less an effort to "look like a good, religious person for 40 days" and more an attempt to "honor my God by fueling the body He gave me with healthy things."

It was hard.

Do you know how many foods in the grocery store include chemicals we have no business eating?

If I had to guess I'd say 80-90%.

But it was great. I felt better, had more energy, and became aware of the fuel I was putting into my body.

As a result of 40 days last year, I hardly ever drink soda anymore, I rarely eat chips, I can't remember the last time I wanted to eat a packaged snack food, and I never, ever buy food without looking at the label.

Yes, still. If there are too many unpronouncable chemicals on the package label I won't buy it. It grosses me out just thinking about the cumulative results of decades of eating that crap on a daily basis.

Think about it.

Anyway, that's not the purpose of this post.

This post is actually meant for a bit of accountability, because I forgot to post it last week at the beginning of Lent.

I'm taking last year's campaign to the next level. In addition to being more aware of the nutrition I put into my body - as an effort to honor God's gift - I'm looking to honor God in other areas of my life as well. Three main areas, actually, all meant to help strengthen my relationship with Him.

1. Again, I will use 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 for inspiration:

19Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.

I'm striving to eat fresh food as much as possible, and also get a bit of daily exercise into the mix. Basically, treating my body in a way that recognizes that it is a temple of God.

2. I am also striving to honor God in my daily life.

And though I can't promise big gains on this one, today's Bible verse actually sums it up quite nicely. From Colossians 3:12:

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

If you know me, then you know I'm not the most patient person. Sometimes it's also hard to be gentle and kind - especially when faced with Milwaukee drivers, for example. But I'm hoping that, with a little practice these 40 days, I can begin to start at a place of understanding and compassion when I am frustrated, angered, or annoyed. "Clothing" myself in these positive attributes in an effort to stifle the more negative instincts. Hopefully this conscience decision, chosen day after day, will soon become second nature.

I find that spending time daily with God in prayer, in devotion, and in contemplation seems to work best for me. With that in mind, rather than sleeping in that extra 30 minutes, I am waking up to greet the day with a devotion and a prayer. Reconnecting my spiritual life with my physical one in the hopes the fruits of my faith shine through.

I can't promise success for any of this. I can only promise I'll try. And with God's grace I will see improvements in my life that work to glorify Him.

That is what Lent means to me.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Why I Won't Be Attending the Twin Cities Food & Wine Show

Ever since I turned 21 I have enjoyed the truly epic experience that is Minnesota Monthly's Food & Wine Experience.

I've devoted kitchen cupboards to it (hey, the Stella Artois booth gives away free barware with their samples).

I've loyally made my annual pilgrimage to Minneapolis, and even managed to be the first in line every year.

I've likened the mythically-proportioned Wisconsin cheese booth to the legend of Brigadoon.

Last year, I wrote an Epiphany-inspired countdown to it.

So if I love it so much, if I'm such a loyalist, why am I not going this year?

First, a bit of history.

When I first started attending the Food & Wine Show, tickets were $50 and doors were open from 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM (with a 30 minute pouring break). That's 7 and a half hours of all you can eat and drink. Really made every other food and wine tasting event pale in comparison.

Furthermore, the show would always have one keynote sponsor, usually Byerly's (Minneapolis Sendiks), who would set the theme and host a gargantuan booth of gourmet food related to that theme.

A few years later, Byerlys stopped sponsoring the event (at least, to the level it did before), and ticket prices jumped from $50 to $65.

Fair enough. Events get more expensive to plan over the course of 6 years, and I'm willing to pay a bit more for the, still, incredible value.

Each year my friends and I would make our pilgrimage from Green Bay, Milwaukee, and Chicago to meet at the Minneapolis Hilton for a weekend of shopping, eating, and drinking. We'd bravely set out at 9 AM to ensure our first place in line, stopping at Dunn Bros. for coffee in the skywalk and passing innumerable teenage girls in cheerleading uniforms (the Food & Wine Show is always, always held on the same weekend as some crazy state cheerleading competition).

We'd anxiously wait in line for the doors to open, keeping one ear open for that one, butterfingered individual who has the misfortune of breaking his/her wine glass before the show even starts (cue 100 people groaning "Aw, man!" in unison).

During our 7 and half hours of hedonism, we courageously stuff ourselves silly, and only occasionally retreat back through the skyways from whence we came to deliver yet another round of trade show trash to our hotel room.

Every single year we make plans for that evening, but when 5 PM rolls around, it's all we can do to awake from our food coma and turn on the hotel room TV.

The next morning we head back home, possibly stopping for breakfast and/or a few hours of shopping at the Mall of America.

Now, a bit of present.

The Twin Cities Food & Wine Experience was a tradition I treasured. A short vacation to look forward to during the bleakest stretch of winter.

However, this year I won't be making my annual pilgrimage.


It's not because the venue moved from the Minneapolis Convention Center to Target Field. Though the MCC was convenient, Target Field is beautiful and, I'm sure, connected to the downtown skyway system.

It's because the event's value has taken a disturbing nosedive.

My friends and I used to spend 6 hours (12 hours roundtrip) driving across WI, hundreds of dollars for a 2-night hotel stay, $65 ticket price, and the cost of incidentals and still believed we were getting a great deal out of it.

This year, show organizers increased the ticket price to $75 and also decreased show time from 7.5 hours to 4 hours. That's a 15% increase in price combined with a 53% decrease in hours of operation.

Not exactly a convincing reason to travel 6 hours (12 hours roundtrip) and spend 2 nights in a hotel anymore.

Why it hurts me to say this...

The Food & Wine Show introduced me to Bell's Brewery, Peace Coffee, Crispin Cider, and many, many others, including family-owned wineries throughout the Midwest of whom I normally wouldn't have heard.

The Food & Wine Show also gave me some of my fondest memories. Like the time we lost one of our friends 30 minutes into the event, thought he had wandered down to the Guns & Ammo Show, only to find him 4 hours later back at the apartment (we all lived in Minneapolis at the time).

Or the year we went to Hell's Kitchen for breakfast the next morning, and had a smorgasboard of the most delicious, unique food served to us by waiters clad in pajamas.

The "experience" of the Food & Wine Experience was more than just the event itself, and, this year, I'm sorry to miss it. Lately I've been bombarded with solicitations for tickets, and, frankly, am shocked they haven't sold out yet as they always do. But perhaps I'm not so shocked after all, and can only hope they realize their mistake this year in alienating their out-of-state attendees.

Adieu, old friend. Perhaps we will meet again in the future.