Monday, January 27, 2014

Sugar and Sprinkles and Everything Nice | Glam Doll Donuts

After a lovely brunch I decided to stop and get some sugar in my system. Because really, no Sunday is complete with some sweets. I had been meaning to try Glam Doll Donuts for awhile and decided today was the day. 

The donuts ... they were amazing. I tried the "Pucker Up" - lemon cream cheese. I love all things lemon and this did not disappoint. In fact, it was amazing. 

A cute place with pink everywhere and amateur artist's work scattered throughout. Eclectic and kinda funky. Bordering on vintage and cooky. There were some nice and light tables by the window, but those were unfortunately all taken. There really wasn't anywhere to sit that I liked - the back tables were a bit dark. 

I would definitely go back and get more donuts, but I think I could just do take-away next time. 

I decided to walk off my donut with a visit to the MIA. My hat fit right in ... 

Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Great Brunch Quest .08 | Yum!

Yum is one of my favorite old brunch haunts! I easily used to eat there (pre-brunch-quest) 2 or so times a month without question. But I haven't been back since the brunch question began. Since yesterday I was able to try Eggs Benedict at Victory 44, I was excited to go back to Yum (where they don't have Eggs Benedict on the menu). 
Location - 4.5/5
It doesn't get much better than this. Just a few blocks down from the Lake Calhoun and Uptown area. Perfect for brunch and then a walk around the lake. Also, easy access to the highway if the walking I prefer is around the mall at Southdale.

Atmosphere - 5/5
I've always loved this place. Big windows let in so much light and keeps the whole atmosphere airy and light. Funky wood tables that look like entire cross sections of a tree with rough edges. Fun vibe overall with tables set up with items for sale that are holiday/seasonal oriented. Lots of chatter and laughter. I always feel like I can sit there and read a book and be perfectly welcome. And, for those that want more quiet, there is a back room that is very quiet and not as full. Also, when the weather is nice they have outdoor tables that are very pleasant. 

Service - 5/5
Good as always. Order at the counter, take your number, they bring the food out to you (with a smile). Lovely.

Food - 5/5 
Always good! I've had breakfast there once (they stop serving at 11 I think) and they have the typical egg dishes, but not Eggs Benedict. I prefer the lunch/dinner menu that starts at 11. I've tried a variety of the sandwiches and salads as well as the pea soup and the side of macaroni and cheese and fries. All. Are. Delicious. My favorite item is the "fancy shmancy" tuna salad. Yes, that is a real name. You can either have it on a green salad or served as a tuna melt. I prefer the tuna melt. Simply amazing. Two open face house-made english muffins pilled high with their specialty tuna salad (which includes olives - yum) and topped with a tomato slice and melted cheese. It is served with house made kettle chips and dill pickle. The whole thing is one of my favorite dishes in the city, for sure! And, I always split it and take one of the muffins home for a meal later on. 

Overall - 4.5/5
Love this place. The only thing that could make it better - serving Eggs Benedict (they would surely dominate). Love it ... and will always return. 

The Great Brunch Quest .07 | Victory 44

Today, my friend Carly and I ventured pretty far out of our comfort zone. Normally, my travel zone extends east, west and south of the city, but I rarely have reason to go north. Well, Victory 44 is north. So north we went. The reviews were generally very good, so I was really excited. Particularly since I knew that they had Eggs Benedict on the menu. 
Location - 1/5
Ummm ... it's north. Somewhere north of the city. Kind of in the middle of nowhere. Yeah. The only reason the location is even getting a 1 is because at least the address was still in Minneapolis proper versus a suburb. But that's about all I got. 
Atmosphere - 2.5/5
Pretty cute. Three rooms with nice wood tables and dark wood throughout. Intimate. I really liked the large wood bar tables in the front room - lots of characters and well paired with the metal stools. Some nice small touches throughout of pigs, like the gold bookends I had been eyeing at CB2. However, I didn't love the photos of pigs throughout - that was just too much. 

Service - 2/5
Most of the time at most places I am fine with the service. It's fine - it's basic. But I was on the fence here. I think it was just our waitress, but I didn't really like her. She didn't describe the menu well and then we got pretty far into choosing our food when she told us they were out of one of the things we were ordering (after we asked about it). It would have been helpful to tell us you were out of them earlier. I don't know, she just rubbed me the wrong way. 

Food - 2/5 
I have very mixed feelings on my food experience. Between the two of us, we ordered A LOT. They have a pretty small menu - three sections/courses (first, second, third) with 2-5 items each. You can either pick single items as you want at cost, or choose one item from each section for $20 per person. Unfortunately, one of the starter items we really wanted (apple miso donuts) were not available.
We both opted for the $20 tasting menu and tried a little bit of each other's, so I got to try a lot!

  • Devils on Horseback - This is defiantly the BEST item I had, and something I have only had once before in my life - I don't think it is a typical menu item. Dates stuffed with blue cheese and wrapped in perfectly crisped bacon. The composite of flavors was delicious - seriously amazing. The cheese ... the sweetness of the date ... the bacon-ness of the bacon. Oh my. Seriously delicious!
  • Apricot, Yogurt and Quinoa - Carly got this, but I tried a bite. It was ok, but not something I would order. The apricots were very sweet and flavorful. 
  • Gravy and Biscuits - Carly had this, but I had a little. I would get this if I came back - it was great. Biscuit with chunky sausage gravy and eggs down over easy. It was really good and rich and flavorful.
  • Cheesy Hashbrowns - Decent. But they were one big glob that was really hard to dig into. A little too greasy. 
  • Eggs Benedict - I. Was. Not. Impressed. At. All. Sorry, but I wasn't. Maybe my palette is not refined enough for this variation, but it just did not work for me. Instead of an English Muffin, it was served on a slice of brown bread, blah. On top of the bread was A LOT of cooked onion. A lot. In fact, that's all I could taste. Gross. On top of that was a thin slice of meat which I didn't really enjoy. Then came the eggs. They were not well cooked. Places have a really hard time finding that balance where you leave the yolk runny and delicious BUT make sure all the white is cooked. This place got the yolk nice and runny, but so much of the white was uncooked that it was gross. And I had nothing to mop up the delicious yolk. Sad. The hollandaise sauce was hollandaise sauce, but I couldn't really taste it given all the onion. 
  • Apple Strudel - The strudel itself was good and light. Apples were nicely cooked in a phyllo shell and I liked that. But it was in a Dr Pepper reduction (what?) which I didn't enjoy. 
Overall - 1.5/5
Sorry. The location combined with my food experience just isn't calling me back for brunch and Eggs Benedict. BUT, with that being said, I would go back for the Devils on Horseback and to try the apple miso donuts and attempt other items on the menu. 

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Movie Review | Blue Jasmine

I cannot believe I didn't see this when it was in theaters. It rather hurt when the Golden Globes came and this was the one movie I had yet to see since Cate Blanchett was getting such rave reviews.

All I can say is - Cate Blanchett truly is amazing! Wow. One of the best performances of the year, to be sure. And one of the best performances of her career.

The movie itself is great and everyone really does an amazing job, but Cate Blanchett just goes above and beyond. The integrating of the past with the present was truly well done. And the dark humor and throughout was great. The dialogue was witty and powerful. And the topics and themes are modern and relevant in today's world.

Oh, and Cate Blanchett is amazing.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

When Did That Happen?

Today I had my first day of school ... again. 

The first day of my 6th semester of my MBA. 

And as I sat down to my Financial Accounting lecture (mandatory intro class, shoot me) I found myself randomly sitting next to someone I went to high school with. And whom I hadn't seen since high school.

That got me to thinking, how long had it been since I had seen him? High school graduation was ... what ... ummmm ... 9.5 years ago.

How is this possible?

It's been almost 10 years since high school. 
It's been almost 6 years since college. 
I've been at my company 6 years this year. 
I've been in my MBA 3.5 years. 
Next year I turn 30. 

What the hell happened? WHEN the hell happened?

I turn 30 next year! 30. I've been out of undergraduate and working longer than I was IN undergraduate. I'll be finishing my MBA soon. And did I mention I was turning 30? 

10 years since high school. Wow. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

My New Obsession |

So, I have a new obsession - A coworker told me about it the other day, and off to my computer I went and I typed.

And what did I discover?

A little bit of accessory heaven.
I have a lot of lovely accessories, many accumulated for years of travel and unique countries, markets and boutiques. I have few signature pieces that I always wear - my Tag Heuer watch Monday-Thursday, my beautiful silver ring from a market in Singapore that I NEVER leave the house without, and my Tiffany silver studs that I wear most days. 

But, I am willing to mix up my necklaces, bracelets and earrings. While I have some nice pieces, I don't feel like they work with some of the current trends for oversized statement pieces, a la what you see at J. Crew for $150. And while I love what they stock, I really cannot justify that for some statement jewelry. And the good pieces never seem to go on sale. Clothes ... now clothes are a different story ... 

Enter Good site, well organized, and with a good selection of pieces ranging from $20-$60+. Most pieces are around the $30-$50 range from what I can see. And while they may not be quite J. Crew caliber, they are very nice indeed.

So armed with a 15% off coupon to get started,  I perused and found a nice piece in red (of course) to start my collection of new accessories. 

What else is great? Free shipping AND free returns. So no problem if you don't like it, just return it. That was my worry. And, you get 1 point for every dollar you spend and then when you checkout again next time you can use those points to take off dollars from that next order (10 pt = $1 off). Pretty nice.

As I was perusing, I was really loving the Instagram selfie reviews - brilliant marketing twist there! Check out an example here. So simple - take a selife and #Baublebar for it to show up. Love this idea as it is always hard to know what something will look like on a real person! How long is it really, how does it hang. How dainty does the chain look. How does it look with my skin tone. Etc. This was super helpful when I was making my decision.

And behold, today my order came! Allow me to walk you through the really nicely branded experience! 

The box arrived looking pretty darn ordinary, save for the nice strip of yellow tape with white diamonds on it. Nice touch. 

But open up the box, and TADA! Very nice and totally worth the added expense - this is really a branded experience! I mean, I love Amazon Prime, but besides that strip of tape that says "Prime", they got nothin'! Inside was a pretty box with tissue paper and an envelope!

And under the tissue paper, another surprise! Given the price I paid, I was TOTALLY expecting my necklace to come in a plastic baggy or something like that. But nope! It came in a branded felt pouch. Amazing!
Seriously, how classy is that pouch?!?!
And then it was time for the ultimate reveal - the necklace itself! I was pretty nervous! I honestly thought it might be flimsy or lower-quality lookng! But I was again very pleasantly surprised. It is pretty, well made, durable-looking, and just very tasteful! It doesn't scream "I only cost $38!".
And more pretty!
And then there was the envelope. I went back for it after gushing over my necklace. Even that was cute and nicely branded with the yellow color and "Special Delivery" copy. 
Even the back was an amazing brand experience! Yay indeed!
Inside was my invoice, a self-addressed package label for returns if needed (not the case) and this fun card about the selfie promotion they do. Really nice piece of collateral (I am such a marketer ...). Clear, branded, and really leads me to take action ... especially with that incentive that every month their three favorite selfies get $100 to spend. Woohoo!
On the back of the card they take it a bit further so you can take a photo with the card and post like that. I didn't see too many people doing that though ... 
What an AMAZING brand experience. I a not often wowed by things like this, but this was just really nicely executed and I felt the need to share. 

Monday, January 20, 2014

The Great Brunch Quest .06 | The Lowry

Two brunches in the same weekend? Amazing! From the character-filled and tiny South Minneapolis Colossal Cafe, I headed over to the more urban and centrally located Lowry on Hennepin Ave right between the Walker and Uptown. Been there before of course, but now I am documenting. 

I will say, whenever I have gone there before for brunch it has always been with a few people, never alone. It is a very different experiences with a group versus alone. More on that below. 
Location - 5/5
For me personally, it doesn't get much better then this location at Hennepin and Franklin. It is right on the busy Hennepin Avenue. Minutes from both the Walker, the MIA, and Uptown as well as Downtown. Perfect for brunch and then heading off to do something or other on the weekend. 

Atmosphere - 4/5
Great atmosphere when with a group. Modern, fresh, full of light. Really nice pace and overall youthful and modern feeling to the place. However, it is a little different alone. It was easy enough to find a place at the bar, but it was very crowded - I barely had enough room to pull out my Kindle and read over brunch. Definitely not enough room to spread out. 20 minute wait for a table meant I could not hold a table for little 'ol me to read. The place is loud and full of life, which is great when with a group - I like the energy. But alone, it is for lounging over. But I do like it overall ... just need to be in the right mood. 
Service - 3/5
Nothing to brag about, nothing to complain about. Sat the bar and the bartender was attentive and polite. 

Food - 3-3.5/5 
Eggs Benedict on the menu - already leaps and bounds ahead of some places. On previous visits I have really enjoyed the Deviled Eggs, so I opted for some of that to start. I really like how you can order them by the piece - one egg (two deviled halfs) for only $2 is awesome! The deviled eggs are great with a good creamyness and a sauce and even bacon on top. Delicious.

As for the Eggs Benedict, I was very optimistic and excited when I started because they were served with hashbrowns (which I love) and the waiter asked me if I wanted the eggs soft, medium or hard. So I knew I was going to get what I wanted (a runny yolk). Once my plate came and I dug it, I was only so-so pleased with my food. The english muffin was too big and tasted rather store-bought. There was not enough Hollandaise sauce at all which made everything dry. The ham was tasteless. And the eggs ... well ... they yolk was definitely soft, but then again, so was some of the surround white. Yuck. I could get over each of those things easily, but overall it just tasted a bit blah ... and dry. And the hashbrowns were blah. I only ate half ... 
Overall - 4/5
When it comes to location, atmosphere, great group ambiance, appetizers and overall menu options, this place is great. BUT - I would not go for the Eggs Benedict. I would go again and try other items on the menu, but I would not go for the Eggs Benedict.

Wanted | Lady's Maid with Strong Knowledge of Pinterest, J. Crew and Proper Cleaning of Accesories

As I was watching Downton last night, I realized something. It just came out of nowhere (well, somewhere, I'll get to that soon). I need a lady's maid. That's it. That is TOTALLY it. I require a lady's maid. I'm not talking about everyday ... but you know ... a few days a week. Oh my gosh - that would make my life so amazing.

Why did this brilliant idea come to me? Well, as I mentioned, I was watching Downton and of course the ladies of the house have lady's maids to keep their clothes orderly and clean, help them pick things out, fix their hair, keep all their accessories in order, etc. And, while watching all of this, I was folding laundry, cleaning my silver jewelry, organizing my makeup drawer, and washing my makeup brushes. Uhh ... hello??? Notice any similarities! 

Seriously. A lady's maid is just what I require. I don't need help dressing or doing my hair (well, maybe for more elaborate things), but just all of the other things that are required to keep everything running smoothly. That would be awesome! Also, I am terrible at putting my clothes away. All the clothes I wear during the week end up piling up on the chair in my (thankfully large) closet until the end of the week when I put them all away. 

Because really, how much time do I spend doing all those things when my time could be so much better employed? Such as studying or working on projects or doing things I never get around to ... or just relaxing!

So that is my logic for needing a lady's maid. Really, I think it is rather sound. 

Oh, and she could totally help me pull together really funky outfits. Like, part of her job description could be having to go on Pinterest and scope out the best outfits and then put together awesome ones from my own wardrobe based on that inspiration. 

Now, if we were to take this further, I would venture to say that a maid or housekeeper would not go amiss either. I feel like there is always something that needs to be done. The bathroom mirror and vanity need cleaning, the shower doors have soap scum (after only ONE day), the dishes need to be done, the rooms need to be dusted, the floor needs to be swept. I consider myself a pretty clean, tidy and organized person, but there is ALWAYS at least three house cleaning related things on my to do list at any given time. Last week I did some sort of chore like cleaning or laundry or organizing every day of the week. And that is pretty typical.

 But for now, I will settle for a lady's maid. We'll go from there. 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

The Great Brunch Quest .05 | Colossal Cafe

The quest continues. This weekend will in fact be a double-brunch weekend since I have my typical Sunday plans, but I also got to enjoy some Saturday brunch when I stopped and picked up a To Go order from Colossal Cafe in South Minneapolis and then went over to visit a friend and her new little baby girl! Brunch and a baby! 

Location - 2/5
Located at Cedar and 42nd, the Cafe is close to Lake Hiawatha and that area. Lots of cute little houses in the vicinity and the parks and bike paths. Unfortunately, it really isn't my normal area and there isn't much nearby (besides my friend's house!) that would take me there. 

Atmosphere - 2/5
This place is TINY! Teeny tiny little stand-alone building with a kitchen in the back and an area up front with 4 or 5 tables, maybe seating 15 people maximum. It's cute and cozy and definitely has charm, but it really isn't my cup of tea. With such limited seating, it is hard for me to imagine going with a book or a journal or a textbook and taking up a table for an extended period of time ... which is my standard brunch routine. But it is charming in its own way ... just not for me.
Service - 2/5
I called in the order ahead of time and picked it up. It was ready and waiting. BUT ... they don't take credit card - only cash and check. So I had to leave and get cash and come back. Rather annoying. 

Food - 2/5 
No Eggs Benedict to be found here. Pretty basic breakfast fare overall - eggs, pancakes, etc. I got a lot for us all to share and got to taste a little bit of each.

  • Egg, sausage and provolone biscuit sandwich - This was ok. The biscuit was really good and I ate almost all of that, but I didn't like the sausage very much - it had some sort of herb I don't like (rosemary, I think). The egg and cheese were good, but standard. Overall, it was big and the biscuit was the best part, but it was only ok. I will say, it was better than the biscuit sandwich I had at Sun Street Bakery.
  • Hashbrowns - Very good.
  • Cinnamon Roll  - Big. Gooey. Delicious.
  • Pancakes - Standard.

Overall - 2/5
I liked the character of the place but they didn't have Eggs Benedict and I couldn't see myself sitting there for a long time reading. BUT ... brunch with Baby Alice deserves a 5/5 by itself!!!!

Movie Screening Review | Labor Day

Labor Day is the story of a a rather unlikely tale that unfolds over the course of a Labor Day Weekend. Henry is a young boy who is responsible for caring for his depressed and reclusive mother, Adele. Before school starts, they venture out to the local Price Mart for some new clothing for Henry. There they encounter escaped convict Frank, who convinces them to bring him home with them. At first, Frank is in their home by force, but eventually it becomes so much more and so different from that. He is the father and the husband that Henry and Adele need. He fixes things around the house. Cooks. But he is a wanted man, and as the weekend comes to a close, the world comes crashing down on the fastly-formed little family. 

Overall, the movie works and it is pretty good - it is a romantic story with good characters whom you want to see happy. Kate Winslet delivers a strong performance (as always) that earned her a Golden Globe nomination. Her depiction of Adele is complex and beautiful and really shows the darkness mixed with hope. Josh Brolin is perfect in the casting of Frank - he is rugged and intimidating yet manages to show this gentle and caring side, graceful and kind. It is a perfect juxtaposition. Together with Henry, they form an unlikely little family. Additionally, the direction by Jason Retiman is good, but not exceptional and doesn't really deliver the same amazingness we have seen from past films.

I liked the film initially and still think it has some strong performances, but taking a step back has made me realize it reminds me a bit of Nicholas Sparks movies ... which I dislike. So ... that kinda works against it. 

But Winselt and Brolin's performances are worth seeing, to be sure.

Additionally, at the screening, the author of the book came and did a Q&A after the film. That was kind of interesting. I have never read any of Joyce Maynard's book (and probably won't), but she seems like she has had an interesting life. Apparently she had a relationship with Salinger when she was 18 and later wrote a memoir about it. After the Q&A everyone got a copy of the book and Maynard signed copies for everyone. That's nice and she seems like a nice enough person ... but I did judge her a bit for her rather overly blingy dress at a book signing in Minneapolis on a freezing cold night. Just sayin' ...

P.S. After seeing Kate Winslet in Labor Day and Leonardo DiCaprio in Wolf of Wall Street (and hearing Leo say Kate's name at the GG when he was listing the nominees for Best Actress), all I can think of is watching Titanic. Which is why I'm watching it right now. "I'll never let go Jack ... I'll never let go ..."

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Friends With Kids | It's Not Just A Movie Title

Did you ever see the movie Friends With Kids? I own it. I love it. My life sometimes feels like the beginning of that movie (well, without the gorgeous male best friend) ... right up until that part where they decide to have a kid together.

I love my friends dearly and their kids are all adorable. And I am very happy for them and love celebrating with them - from baby showers to births to first, second, third, etc birthday parties. If they want me to share with them in that happiness, I will gladly do so. I am 28 (and a half) ... and this is what my life is full of. I am at the age that I have mostly gotten done with all the engagement parties and wedding showers and weddings and have moved on to all things baby. Last weekend was a first birthday party where (I think) I was the only person without a child and single. This weekend visiting my friend Katie and her new little baby girl Alice. I love my friends, and their kids are cute ... but it leaves me feeling a little strange every time I leave the interaction.

I leave and I go off on my own. I go to movies. I go to brunch. I do homework for my MBA classes. I got to the gym for long periods of time. I go to sleep super late and sleep even later. I have no schedule and no one to answer to. That's my life. And I love it. I really really do.

I just don't know about kids right now. They seem like such a far off distant thing to me. I couldn't care for another human being ... not now at least. That may seem selfish, but it's the truth.

I'm rambling ... with no purpose really ... I just have been thinking about these things recently. Partially because I have been doing baby-related things with friends. Partially because now that it is 2014 the statement "next year I turn 30" is a reality. Partially because J. Crew just introduced a baby collection.

Did you know that in 2008 the average age of a mom when her first child is born was 25?

My mom had me when she was 23. By the time she was 28 (and a half), she had a 5 year old! That kinda blows my mind.

Then again ... have a child necessitates having a man in your life ... and I suck at that. So ... one step at a time ...
Please ignore my horrible cuticles and unpainted nails. Geez. The ONE day I don't have polish on. I always have my nails done ... and the one day I get a close-up of them ... nada.

I'm On Instagram!

I've been on Instagram for awhile but never use it. I post photos to FB and here ... why do I need yet another place to post. Also, hashtags confuse me. I mean, I get how to use them, but there are so many. Like for posting your outfit for the day, there is #ootd #wiwt #wiw #whatiwore #outfitoftheday ... etc. The list is sooo long.

Anywho, since Instagram didn't feel differentiated enough for me, I didn't activly post. But now I have decided to reserve Instagram for one thing only and want to start posting to it more often. My Instgram strategy shall be: style/fashion. As in, my style/fashion. The whole "this is what I wore today" thing. I already take random photos when I like outfits I have put together, so I may as well document that. And ... I am really making more of an effort to do more layering and fun accessorizing this year. Layering scares me, I fear it adds bulk AND stretches the top layer ... but I want to do more. Random ... I know. I have great clothes and great accesories and I just want to capture that, so there.

So check out Instgram if you wanna see my #ootd or #wiwt or whatever ...

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Movie Screening Review | Jack Ryan: Shadown Recruit

January is here, and with it comes two things: A) award season where we review all the amazing and worthy films from last year, and B) movies in theaters that are not exactly Oscar material. Nothing against these movies, they are perfectly fine movies, it just isn't the time when the studios release those types of movies. Like anything, movie releases ebb and flow. Big blockbusters come out over memorial weekend, 4th of July and Christmas. Awards films are October-December, romances around Valentine's day, etc. So January is much the same. It is a bit of a weird month actually. The smaller films that are award contenders that opened in LA and NYC only in December are getting larger distribution during the month, so movies like Her, August: Osage County, and Labor Day are still making first appearances in many cities. But then you also have movies like Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. It is a perfectly good movie that is made to A) entertain the masses and B) make the studio some money (well, and C) maybe open up a franchise opportunity). And there is nothing wrong with that.

A few notes:
  • After all heavy award season movies and reviewing, I must say I am actually ready for a CIA action flick that isn't trying to be more than it is
  • I have always loved Chris Pine ... loved ... ever since I saw him in that (terrible) Just My Luck movie
  • I also adore Keira Knightley
  • I will pretty much watch anything with spies/CIA/mystery/MI6/etc. - love them
  • I love a good action movie ... especially an action movie with some travel ...
  • I have never read any of the Jack Ryan books 
So, I was really excited for this movie and was not disappointed in any way. It delivered on exactly what it promised - 90 minutes of spies, action, travel, Chris Pine's beautiful baby-blue eyes, ticking time-bombs, possible destruction of the world (or at least its financial system), deeply sophisticated (Russian) bad guys, and some good old fashion car chases/snipers/hand to hand combat .... oh ... and of course ... a good dose of romance!

Really, what more could you ask for?

If you want something fun, easy, light and with action and a dabble of romance ... go for it ... you won't be disappointed. 

Wake Up Call

You know how some people are like, "I have such a hard time waking up in the morning" or "I hate mornings" or "I'm not a morning person". Yeah ... take those comments all to the extreme and you get ME. 

I seriously have major problems with mornings. Always have, and probably always will. And probably part of the reason I don't know if I want kids - the poor thing would cry in its room because mommy (literally) is fast asleep and cannot hear the crying ... or the alarm. 

I blame my parents. Sort of. I grew up in a lax household since I was very small when it came to bed times. Seriously. My bedtime was ... get ready ... 23:45. Get it? 2-3-4-5. As in military time for 11:45! (We lived in Europe) My parents wanted to stay up, so I stayed up. My parents wanted to sleep in, so I went to bed late so I too would sleep in. And it worked. I can sleep like the dead - nothing wakes me. On the weekends especially, if i don't set an alarm (and even sometimes when I DO set an alarm), it is very common for me to wake up at noon ... or 1PM ... or even 2PM. Don't judge. Ok ... fine ... judge away. 

On the flip side, I also have a bit of trouble falling asleep at night (which obviously contributes to my morning issues). I have never been that person that can turn off the lights, clear my head and make myself go to sleep. I have to be exhausted. My eyelids have to be drooping. That's the only time I can get to sleep. So I read until I get to that point. 

But nothing comes close to the morning struggle. Nothing. I have the best intentions to wake up early, I always do. To get in some strength training in the AM. To freshly style my hair. To make my bed. To NOT be frantically rushing. I would love to do that. I yearn to do that. But I can't. My body just won't allow it. I set alarms. Plural. Multiple alarms with unique and annoying ringtones. I set alarms that I then put in my bathroom so I have to get up to turn it off. I have my mom call me. Nothing works. I sleep through them ALL. And I don't even remember it. When something finally does wake me up, I realize that I have slept through all of it with no memory of any alarms of noises or conversations with my mother. 

And so it goes. Everyday. I have the best intentions. And I just can't seem to do it. So I continue to be frantic. My bed remains unmade. And my hair never lives up to its fully styled potential. 

Whatever people may think, I don't do this on purpose. I try. I really do. But if you can't even remember hearing the alarm, how the hell are you supposed to wake up from it?!?!?

Monday, January 13, 2014

The Great Brunch Quest .04 | Grand Cafe

The adventure continues. I am actually really quite proud of myself - I was very tempted to default back to my favorite haunts, but I have persevered and kept keepin' on. 

This week took me to Grand Cafe a few blocks from Lake Harriet at Grand and 38th. 
Location - 2/5
While the 38th and Grand location is only a few short blocks from Harriet, there really isn't anything directly around it that I like, and it just means going a bit too far for me. Nothing great directly in that area. 

Atmosphere - 2/5
Small, intimate, and eclectic. It felt a little like two restaurants - one side a bit airy and calm, and the other side with the bar area more loud and dark. The whole place is a little dark, actually. And there is a lot of noise from the area by the bar (disclaimer - I was sitting pretty close by, so maybe it wasn't as bad in the rest of the restaurant). It just didn't feel like the kind of place that I could sit and enjoy my book or study at. I didn't like how gloomy it felt. And I didn't like that you could see behind the bar area and all the clean-up and set-up.
Service - 3/5
It was decent, but not amazing. I was a bit disappointed that they didn't have fresh iced tea or orange juice or anything else. But it was decent.

Food - 2.5/5 
Pretty good brunch menu overall with some interesting options. Side note: what is up with biscuits and gravy, I just don't get it. Anyway, they have some pretty standard pancake/egg/etc brunch options. Including, Eggs Benedict ... which I (of course) had. I will say, they had this other thing on the menu with puff pastry, poached egg and truffle sauce that sounds amazing. I would go back to try it. I also had a really good berry crumble cake.

  • Eggs Benedict - What was nice was that you could get a full or half order, only a $4 difference for one egg with half english muffin. Here they serve them up with oven roasted potatoes (bland) and include a few asparagus stalks right under the eggs with the hollandaise sauce drizzled over the whole thing. I took the asparagus off and ate it separately, but it was a nice idea. As for the eggs, well, the yolk wasn't fully hard, but it definitely wasn't soft and gooey like it should be. It was kind of a clay consistency. Eh. Also, they sprinkled paprika on top - nice touch. 
  • Berry Crumble Cake - Delicious. So yummy. Crumbly and full of sweet goodness. 
  • Hot Chocolate - Blah. 
Overall - 2/5
I would go back to try the pastry/poached egg/truffle sauce thing on the menu. The atmosphere and location weren't bad, but they just weren't my favorite. Just too gloomy and dark ... 

Delicious Dish | Roasted Vegetables and Quinoa

I have been eating a lot of two things recently: this amazing lemon pepper cod (and I don't even LIKE fish) and roasted veggies. Super simple, super delish, and both made with lots of lemon ... wish is so refreshing and I love.

The veggies are super easy. Whatever I have on hand (always carrots and broccoli, sometimes peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms, potatoes) tossed with a tablespoon of light olive oil, a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice, and some lemon veggie seasoning.

Today, I took it further though. While cleaning/organizing my kitchen cupboards I found some quinoa. So I made a massive amount of roasted carrots and broccoli and just tossed the quinoa right in there. It adds a nice texture and taste, and makes the veggies feel a bit more filling.

And ... plenty of leftovers for lunch tomorrow.
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