Weekly Photo Challenge – Twinkle

Two photos taken today that say twinkle to me.  This year’s Christmas tree, just decorated and later reflected in the window:

Why not join in the challenge yourself?  Or check out other entries at this link.


Filed under Challenges, Holidays

not our usual Thanksgiving

But it was a fine one nonetheless!!  Since we decided we weren’t going to turn on our new oven just yet due to our mice infestation issue, we opted to spend Thankgiving at a restaurant almost at the last minute.  I say at the last minute because when I started looking for restaurants that were open on Thanksgiving less than two weeks ago, some had already filled up!  And in the 2-4 hours that I started looking then booked our reservation, more reservation spots had filled up at Fire Lake Grill House.  A few days later a co-worker suggested Windows on Minnesota, which is atop the Marquette Hotel, also in downtown Minneapolis.  He said it was an excellent buffet and the views are fabulous.   I never could get in touch with anyone there.  Each time I tried I got a voicemail box and I didn’t leave a message.  It was probably about $5 more than the meal we had and from the sounds of it, it may have been a better meal choice?  I might consider Windows on Minnesota next year, we’ll see.

For nearly our entire married life, I have planned and cooked (and cleaned up after) our Thanksgiving meal.  It’s my favorite holiday, so much so that I created a post about it last year.  Feel free to read about it at the link.  Since we decided to spend the meal out this year, we opted to make just some appetizers to get us through the day until we left for dinner just after 5 p.m.  We had our usual deviled eggs, mixed nuts, cheese and crackers, longhorn caviar and cheddar stuffed mushrooms.  All were excellent and we staggered them throughout the day.  We all agreed that it was odd to not have much to do and that not much cooking was going on.

What’s interesting about this trip downtown is that there are plenty of places to park within walking distance of the restaurant.  We chose the lot adjacent to the restaurant.  It was an underground lot and when we drove down the ramp, we were greeted with a huge panel of doors with a sign that read something like “pull forward, the doors will open automatically”.  Like out of a sci-fi movie, cool!!  What’s also interesting is that we didn’t know this would be a nice, warm parking lot, meaning we really didn’t need to bring our coats.  However, being the weather saavy Minnsesotans that we are, we always bring our coats, boots, gloves and hats with us in the unlikely event of going in the ditch.  And considering that yesterday was the coldest day of the week (a high of 10, whee!!), it was nice to not have to face the elements.  Score!!

We were seated immediately with our friend joining us from the bar.  I noticed that our table was on the edge of two rooms so I wondered how that was going to work.  Luckily, my happy-go-lucky hubby had the “right” seat.  He was the one that everyone kept bumping into and he didn’t mind a bit.  One thing that I liked about this restaurant was that they had more than their Thanksgiving meal on the menu.  So, if my vegetarian daughter didn’t want their Thanksgiving meal, she could choose something else.  Instead, three of us had their Thanksgiving meal and hubby had their prime rib.  Miss M just ate everything but the turkey, which we brought home with us. Here is the write-up from their website of their holiday menu:

Join us for Thanksgiving and what has been a tradition for many over the last decade at FireLake Grill House and Cocktail Bar in downtown Minneapolis.  Our Executive Chef Jim Kyndberg and his team will provide the perfect meal to celebrate.  Enjoy our cider cured, applewood smoked, Wild Acres Turkey prepared over the wood-burning rotisserie.  The trimmings include wild rice stuffing, cheddar herb mashed potatoes, cider gravy, maple glazed yam and apples, green beans with crimini mushrooms and crispy shallots and cranberry-orange relish.

There were plenty of other choices on their menu but I’m glad that I chose the traditional meal.  The turkey was delicious and moist, the potatoes, yams and green beans were equally yummy.  It seemed that the stuffing was not a big hit as all three of us had some leftover at the end.  There was also pumpkin pie for dessert but I was too stuffed to finish mine and I didn’t like that it was cold. I guess they had to refrigerate the pie but we’ve always had room temperature pie.

Some photos of the meal and environs:


They also sent everyone home with “leftovers”: a bag with a turkey sandwich inside!  I thought that was a nice touch.  Here is Miss M with her bag:

Here’s hubby in his holiday garb.  He matches so well with the decor doesn’t he?

All in all a good experience.  And we really enjoyed the restaurant.  We will probably go back again!


Filed under Food, Minnesota, Restaurant reviews

Weekly Photo Challenge – Angular

that's a long way up

that’s a long way up

breaktime: Ecolab plaza

breaktime: Ecolab plaza

The top photo is Willis Tower in Chicago, the other is Ecolab Plaza, St. Paul.

I love the angles in these photos. I hope you will too.  For more entries in this week’s challenge, click here.


Filed under Challenges

my bat story

If you enjoyed my mice adventure, surely you’ll enjoy this story.  I was thinking about how many more things I would need go through to complete my Minnesota adventure.  It seems we’ve covered a lot of ground when it comes to “things that could happen to you in Minnesota”. We’ve had several flooded basements, ice dams and the ensuing leaky ceiling, a mice infestation that I hope is finally over and then there’s the story of the bats.  The bats lived in the house from hell.

Our first year in Minnesota was spent at a rental house in one of the nicest neighborhoods in St. Paul.  But it was definitely not one of the nicest houses. The weekend we were moving in the kitchen ceiling fell down. Luckily our cats, Bert and Ernie, were not in there at the time.  Next, our landlord hired the cheapest roofers on the planet and they forgot to put tarps on the roof a Friday before a torrential downpour.  I had every pot and bowl I owned making a line from the dining room on into the living room then turning right to go into the spare bedroom collecting water from that downpour.  Oh yes, fun times. And did I mention the broken elbow in the back of that house? Okay, that was me being in too much of a hurry and had nothing to do with that house. But it did happen at that house.  I learned a huge lesson that winter.  Baby steps is my mantra all winter now.

Towards the end of our year there I was asleep on the couch late at night when I heard the cats making noise.  When I turned on the light they were both sitting, looking up at the bat that was hanging from my ceiling.  Oh boy, how do we get it out of the house?? I woke the husband and he managed to shoo it out the back door with a broom.  I hid in the bathroom :)

Prior to seeing this bat I was hearing noises in the walls, which I now know were the bats.  Curiously, the husband thought I was hearing things…..UNTIL he saw Ernie staring at the wall listening to the bats.  So funny that man.

Here’s a short update on the mice situation.  The last mouse to leave the house was Tuesday and we are now to Friday. I have not yet looked at the traps but I suspect and hope, hope, hope they continue to be empty!!

Happy Friday everyone!!

Here are Bert and Ernie as kittens, a photo I took home from my mother’s house. It’s a photo of a photo as scan was not working:

And just for fun, for the Fritz fans “please, can I have some of your dinner?”:


Filed under Minnesota

of mice and modern living

Anyone out there struggled with a mice infestation?  I have gotten quite the education in pest control and removal, let me tell you!  Read on as I share my experience.

Just over a month ago my daughter and I were at the kitchen sink when she saw, and I felt, a mouse crawl over my foot.  What? A mouse in the house?  14 years we’ve been here and we’ve never seen a mouse in the house.  Oh but we were about to learn all about these rodents.

A few days after the first mouse sighting, I heard noises in the kitchen and when I went to investigate I found Eddie, our older cat, lying in the middle of the floor staring at the oven.  And then I heard the scratching noises coming from the oven that he was hearing. Several days later we turned on our oven to make dinner and this putrid smell came out of it!!  I thought it was the mouse my daughter had seen and was now dead somewhere in the oven.  We looked inside, no mouse. We pulled the range away from the wall and found our first mouse droppings.  Now what?  We elected to not take off the many screws on the back of the oven to peer inside there.

About 2 or 3 days later I found more mouse droppings, this time all over the counter and some on the stove.  Oh boy, time to get traps!  We struggled a little bit about how to rid ourselves of these lovely creatures from our indoor existence. We could get live traps and release them outside. That seemed the more humane approach and if I had more time I might have seriously considered that route. Well, that and the fact that our local hardware store did not sell any live traps.  So, onward with catching the mice.  It was time to be rid of the rodents.

I had read that peanut butter in a trap was the best way to catch mice. And sure enough that was our experience with all but one mouse. Or so I think it’s just one.  I’ll get back to that in a moment and that story is not quite over yet.  We had three traps, one of which would not stay open. Then we were down to two traps a night, catching 6 in the next several days.  One Friday morning a few weeks ago was the last mouse we caught, or so we thought.

We were going to turn on the oven one week after the last mouse sighting.  Then decided against it as my husband looked at me and said “do you really want to use that oven again?” What apparently happened was that the mice got into the oven’s surroundings and made a mess of the insulation causing the oven to stink when it was on.  Buy a new oven we did!  It looks very nice but we’ve not yet turned it on.  The day after it was delivered there were fresh droppings on the stove.  YUCK!! We obviously weren’t quite done with the mice.

I had read that peppermint oil is a deterrent so I found a small bottle of 100% pure peppermint oil (it has to be 100% and not an extract)  I then doused many cotton balls with the oil and placed them strategically around the shiny new oven.  Long story short, there was still at least one more mouse left in the house.  I found more droppings behind the new oven. We had sealed a bunch of holes with steel wool and thought all the ways they could get into the house were patched.  Guess again!

Finally we called the pest control experts.  Loved the technician that came.  He had much knowledge and we hired him to seal any other holes that we missed(apparently there were many!!) and to set more traps in the house.  As of yesterday one mouse was captured, hooray!!!  I also cleaned up all the mouse droppings that I had found in the last several days.  My thinking is that if this is the last mouse there should be no more droppings.  It felt great vacuuming up all that crap and I’m hoping that’s the last time I have to do that.

What I learned is that this has been the worst year for mice infestations, the worst our tech has seen in 7 years.  It seemed so odd to us that we’ve been in this house nearly 14  years and have never had this problem so at least there’s an explanation.  Our tech also recommended foaming up the area where the front stoop meets the house.  When this first began I suspected they had gotten in over there so I shoved a bunch of steel wool in that corner.  He also said we had holes by two windows in the basement as well as the where the A/C lines come into the house.  The mice then crawl up the walls and in our case they ended up in the kitchen for the most part.  I did find droppings behind the couch as well as near the cat box but we caught most of the mice in the kitchen.

Mr. Tech Extraordinaire will return for a follow-up on Tuesday next.  And we made reservations at a restaurant for Thanksgiving as I don’t want to turn my oven on until about two weeks after the last mouse is caught. I’m actually looking forward to a year off from cooking and cleaning. I may even do a blog post about that experience.  We might even make a Thanksgiving meal in early December, we shall see :)

Happy Sunday!




Filed under Minnesota, Writing

Weekly Photo Challenge – Minimalist

My entries for this week’s challenge:

To view more entries, or to enter the challenge, click here.


Filed under Challenges

a collection of autumn scenes

It’s been a fairly nice fall season here in the frozen tundra and I’ve been able to get outside for walks amongst the beauty of the changing leaves.  Today we took a walk around the lake at the park and below are some of those scenes.  It’s a beautiful time of year!! Especially when the weather is agreeable :)

Street scenes:

Some colorful leaves up close:

Finally some scenes from the park today:

Probably our last two cukes of the season. Look how big one of them got!!

And for all the Fritz fans, here he is in the weeds:


Filed under Minnesota