Just another Minnesota Mom blog.

We Made It!

Posted: October 1st, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Living in the City | Tags: Cake., City Living, Cloth Diapers, fall, Minneapolis, outdoors, renting, Squirrels | 8 Comments »

What a week.

First off: Squirrels

So many squirrels. If I hated them when they were just chucking acorns down from their perch in the Oak tree, I *really* hate them when they are scratching around in my ceiling and sitting on my coffee maker. Did you catch that? One got INTO our living space!

Now, I wasn’t home when this happened. I was at Target with Yogi Dad- doing our bi-weekly grocery shopping when I get a call from my Mom who was watching the boys. Squirrel! Running around the house, There was some screaming and some OMG whatdoIdoooooooo?

You lock the kids in a bedroom, let the cat* corral our little rodent visitor into the laundry room and wait for the Handy Landlord to come over is what you do. It’s times like these when I am so happy to be a renter. I get to call someone else to deal with this kind of stuff. Stuff like sealing up entry points and pulling nests out of soffits.

Of course less than 24 hours later we had another one scratching around above the kitchen. It must be time to find a winter home.

Damn Squirrels.

Which brings me to apples. (Don’t worry how I got there)

Apples. Whole ones. My boys are enamored with eating them in this form. Two at a time mostly. That’s like 6 apples going at once. That is a lot of apples. I don’t know if the budget can keep up with so much apple consumption! Cut-up apples simply will not do. They are eating everything- even the core, so weird!

But, they are helping to keep everyone quite regular, which after the summer of awesomeness (no Miralax!) I am glad to have continue.

Which brings me to diapers. (It’s obvious how I got here)

I want to know what you are using. Cloth? Disposables? A little of both? I put a handy dandy poll over on my sidebar and I’ve had 3 measly clicks in a week. I know I have a lot of cloth diapering mamas reading here. So, click on that poll, let me know where you are on the diapering scale. If you use cloth, leave me a comment and tell me what your absolute favorite diaper is and why. Because I love fluff and I’ve got a little something brewing that I need a little input on ūüėČ

My week wasn’t all bad- it started off with a Fondant tasting and some twin talk hosted by Beki over at Beki Cook’s Cakes. If you are in the Twin Cities you should check her out- she does cake decorating parties and classes. You too can master the art of the Cupcake Swirl!

Have a great weekend everyone!

*Audrey is gaining back some of her awesome points after that one. Stanley was of course barking his head off in the bedroom and Henry was nowhere to be found.

Don’t forget to follow along on Twitter and Facebook!

Renters of the Year

Posted: July 31st, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Living in the City | Tags: meet the neighbors, Minneapolis, renting | 12 Comments »

That’s what our neighbor called us when she saw us toiling out in the front yard on Saturday.

Yogi Dad was putting brick pavers around the edge of the yard (it was only partially edged in) and I was weeding and mulching and admiring our handy work. Yogi Dad commented that it seemed a bit condescending, but I shrugged it off. Then I thought about it and it felt a LOT condescending.

Like the ONLY thing worth knowing about us is that we are renters, it comes up in every conversation. Let me tell you, renters are not bad people simply because they rent. Many of them like to get out and do the same things that owners do- discover the neighborhood, visit the parks, meet the neighbors and (last time I checked) gardening is not something that is reserved for home owners.

Our last neighborhood was made up of mostly duplexes, as NE Minneapolis is overrun with them. When we went to our first National Night Out block party everyone just sat and talked about how terrible the renters were. Absentee landlords, burglery and theft, Oy! We were just a young couple sans kids who wanted to be in a quiet neighborhood close to our favorite haunts. We weren’t bad. Our landlord lived in Northeast. The only crime we committed was not figuring out how to properly sort the recycling. We enjoyed the neighborhood and miss it terribly, but not because of the neighbors.

I just have this bad taste in my mouth, like I have to go above and beyond and prove that we’re not unsavory people. We won’t be throwing late night parties. We won’t have the bass booming in the driveway for 30 minutes at a time. We aren’t going to wreck the house from the inside out. We won’t be bringing other unattractive qualities to the neighborhood simply because we do not own the home.

I feel like an outcast.

And because of that, no matter the intent, remarks like “Renters of the Year” come off as not so nice.

We love living in this neighborhood, we are excited to try our hand at gardening and happy to have our grill back and the ability to let the boys run around and be kids in the backyard. I’m happy to be in a less transitional neighborhood than when we were in Northeast. Here you see the neighbors, kids walking dogs and riding bikes, people stop to talk when they see you. It feels like a real neighborhood. For the most part, interactions with the neighbors have been positive.

I just wish the disappointment when they find out we didn’t buy the house wasn’t so obvious. Because I have plenty on my plate without proving that we fit here. I am not defined by the fact that I rent my home. We’re just a family with young kids, trying to live a life.

Did you say chocolate?

Posted: May 4th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Out and About | Tags: Bona Vita, Chocolate, Environmentally Friendly, Ethical Eats, Food Blogging, Free Trade, Group Fun, Group Outings, Minneapolis, Out and About, Twin Cities | No Comments »

Image from www.chocolatebonavita.com

Last Saturday night a group of Bloggers and Tweeters got together to taste some chocolate.¬† This wasn’t¬†your mother’s¬†chocolate though.¬† This was award winning artisan chocolate from around the world.

Now, I like to think of myself as a chocolate connoisseur.¬† I’ve always liked dark over milk and never, ever under any circumstances *white*.¬† I have tried both of the local brands (BT McElrath and Rogue) and I will skip a 2lb bag of M&M’s in favor of a fancy 6oz bar¬†dusted with Sea Salt…and make it last for weeks.

That said, I eat my fair share of candy.¬† I like candy.¬† I’m not above grabbing a Peanut Butter Twix while waiting for my turn to pay at Target.¬† Maybe a 3 Musketeers Truffle Bar….or two.

But Saturday night…Saturday night was all about good chocolate.¬†

Really good chocolate.

The kind where you can let a one inch square melt on your tongue and not have a need for another piece.

Bona Vita is a small company in the Twin Cities who’s passion is to promote ethically produced, delicious chocolate.¬† Something that is often very difficult to find here.¬† They strive to educate likeminded chocolate lovers and provide them a place to purchase and enjoy these tantilizing treats.

Bona Vita is bringing their knowledge and passion for chocolate to the Twin Cities through small and large group tastings and seminars where they do a presentation and walk you through different high end chocolates.

Our presentation was quite thorough.

Did you know that the majority of cacao beans are produced on farms that are 5 acres or less?¬† Even the chocolate that is mass produced (think Hershey’s) starts out on¬†a small farm.¬† Did you know that¬†most cacao bean farmers have never tasted the finished product?¬† How do you produce the best product if you don’t know what you are aiming for in the end?¬† did you know that the majority of cacao beans are produced for quantity and heartiness as opposed to taste?¬†

There are some small artisan chocolate companies based around the world who are trying to bring back the best the cacao bean has to offer.  They are cultivating the Criollo plant (the best most aromatic and most rare cacao plant) and working with the farmers from step one so they can be part of the process from the ground up.  They are changing the way the world (at least some of the world) looks at chocolate.

We started with a roasted Criollo cacao bean.  Never in my life have I had a whole cacao bean.  Maybe some cacao nibs in a Nibby Bar, but never a whole roasted bean.  I expected the taste to rival that of a coffee bean.

It was delicious, and quite unlike a coffee bean.  Nutty and rich and smooth at the same time.  No bitterness and just a hint of sweetness to finish.

From their we moved on to a  SlittiРGrancacao 90% from Central America.  At 90% it has very little processing and starts out a bit on the bitter end, as you might suspect, and then mellows right at the end. 

After that shock of chocolate we were given a piece of¬† mass produced chocolate of unspecified cacao content…it didn’t even taste like chocolate.¬† It felt grainy on the tongue and left me feeling like I was missing out.¬† For this dark chocolate loving girl, the let down was pretty extreme.

We moved on to a chocolate produced in Seattle, the Theo– Jane Goodall 45% from Central America.¬† Theo is the first Fair Trade, organic chocolate company in the United States.¬† If Theo could overtake Hershey’s, we would all be much better off.

After Theo, we moved back to a brand we had just been introduced to moments before: Slitti.  The Slitti- Lattenero 51% from South America.  Lattenero means Black Milk and this piece aims to please both the dark and milk chocolate lovers of the world and is quite good.

Next up was L’Artigiano- Extra fondente alSale Solce di Cervia, min. 54% from Ecuador.¬† If I could eat this one chocolate for the rest of my life, i would be one happy woman.¬† The salt hits your tongue and the sweet and the….My eyes about rolled back in my skull this was so good.¬† My favorite of the night

The Amano– Madagascar, min. 70% from Africa was next.¬† It’s amazing how different chocolate can taste with just a change in location of where the beans are grown.¬† No need to add nuts or fruit or caramel here.¬† The fruitiness of this really shines through on it’s own.

Last, but certainly not least (I think Yogi Dad starred this as his favorite of the night) was the Domori- Teyuna, min. 70% from Columbia.  Silky, slow melting, pure pleasure.

After we had finished out plate of chocolate I expected to feel like I needed to be rolled out of there, but I wanted to keep going.  Sadly, the evening was coming to a close.

We toasted with some champagne and left with a head full of excitement.  Who knew a night spent learning could be so much fun?

Bona Vita has a Friday night Happy Hour from 4-6pm at the Italian Cultural Center located in the Hennepin Center for the Arts, Suite 502. 

I can’t think of a better way to end a work week.

If you are interested, please check out Bona Vita on Facebook and their website where you can learn more about upcoming events and classes!

Disclosure: I was invited to attend this tasting class by Life with Levi and I am so glad I went.  I think my tweets Saturday night are proof that I was blown away by this experience.  Obviously, as always, all opinions here are mine.