Christmas Tradition: Dinner with the gals

ChristmasTraditionsOne of the things my sister, mom, and I have done since I moved to Sacramento is go out to dinner, just the three of us, some time just before Christmas.  We usually go somewhere nice like Ruth’s Chris or in last night’s case Bandera.  It’s a great bonding time.  We have fancy drinks and splurge on a good meal.

We take a break from the rush of the holidays and daily life in general, even if it’s only for a couple of hours. I always try to have Baileys on the rocks at the end of the dinner, but I keep overindulging in good wine.  Speaking of…

Last night, I accidentally ordered a $50 bottle of wine.  I was looking at the glass price.  Yes, I’d already had a glass of wine…and not enough to eat.  Oops. It was delightful, however.

Usually, we also give each other little gifts.  It’s a pretty ornament or something fancy, but small, we might not normally buy for ourselves.  This year, I totally forgot.  In my defense, I did have to fly halfway across the country for Christmas and have had quite a bit on my mind lately, but no worries. It’s all good.

 

Driving Nice: That’s not a lane, Minnesota

Growing up, I heard my parents talk about how awful the drivers in New Jersey were. We lived there briefly when I was child, but it was long enough to put an indelible mark on my family’s collective psyche…and my accent sometimes.

Regardless, when we moved back to California, any time someone would drive poorly, they always made a Jersey Driver comment.

Minnesota, you are giving New Jersey a run for its money.

Minnesota Drivers

Seriously, do you see that above photo?  It’s on 7th Street in Minneapolis.  Those cars on the far left in the second photo are NOT IN A LANE! That’s where cars park. Do you see the parking meter? There’s a big red arrow pointing at it. That means that’s where cars park. And it’s not one of those no parking during commute hour things either. I’ve seen cars parked there at the same time before the photo was taken.

Since none were there for whatever reason that day, drivers who were turning left just made it into a lane rather than wait in traffic for the light to change.

Now, I’ve seen some crazy shit go down while stuck in traffic in San Francisco. When you are trapped in traffic, you do tend to lose your mind.

These people WERE NOT trapped in traffic. They were just being jerks.

But, it’s not just this instance.  I’ve seen it all over the Twin Cities area.  Yes, I used to see people in Sacramento go around someone who is turning left in front of them (HOW DARE THEY TURN LEFT!!!), and I see it here, but it’s far, far worse.

Why are you all in such a hurry?  It’s not even cold yet, or so I’ve been told.

Luckily, the red light running is not as bad here as it was in Sacramento.  Oh, don’t get me wrong, there is still a decent amount of people blasting past the red, it’s just not as frequent.  I’ve actually gone a whole week without seeing it happen…well, maybe more like five days.

Here’s one thing I’ve come to realize, bad driving is universal. It’s just the type and flavor that can change.

What I Miss: Tacos

Street tacosCan someone recommend a place in the Twin Cities with good street tacos? I’m picky about my Mexican food. Most places in California just had OK Mexican food. There was a lot of lard, too much most of the time and that made the food tasteless.

My favorite tacos are simple. Soft tortillas, preferably corn, meat, onions and a light smattering of cilantro. That’s it. No guacamole, no beans, no sour cream, no lettuce. By the way, if you add beans and rice to the inside of a taco, it becomes a burrito.

The rice and beans on the side were almost always eschewed. Not because I don’t like them but because they just weren’t tasty. There was one place in Sacramento that had pretty good cilantro rice, but I never found decent beans. Although, I like the ones from a can at home because I can doctor them up as needed and make sure they are fat free.

So, back to my original question, can I find good street tacos here or will I have to wait until I visit California again?

Random Thoughts on Tweetups

There is a universal rule of thumb at tweetups. No one tweets at them. Today I went to my first #STPTweetup. No, that’s not a Stone Temple Pilot Tweetup, but a SainT Paul tweetup. I love these types of gatherings. It’s a great way to make new friends. Like I said, you have a built in ice breaker…you all tweet.  I met the gal who runs the gathering, Colleen McGuire.  She was awesome! I felt very welcomed and comfortable.

This one was fairly small compared to the Sacramento tweetups. According to Colleen, this is likely because the weather was nice. Minnesotans like to take advantage of it and enjoy the outdoors when they can, so the tweetups in the spring/summer tend to be smaller than the ones in the winter/fall.

Tomorrow it’s supposed to snow & rain. I wonder if more people would have shown up if the tweetup was Wednesday instead of Tuesday. It’s sort of the opposite of California. When it happens to rain, people hide indoors. No one knows what to do when water falls from the sky.

An aspect of the Twin Cities that I am thoroughly enjoying is the inventiveness of various eating & drinking establishments. Tonight’s venue was the Chatterbox Pub. What did I love about this place? They had Donkey Kong. Donkey Kong! I remember playing that as a kid after church on Sundays. We would go to a drug store and they had one in the back. I was awful at it then and Paul playing Donkey KongI’m awful at it now. Paul was better at it than me, but I think standing too close to him might have been somewhat of a distraction.

Also available….ATARI! They had an old school Atrari 2600 available as well as an original Nintendo system. There were couches surrounding about three TVs in the middle of one of the rooms of the restaurant. So, you could sit there, have dinner, an adult beverage, and play Space Invaders or Super Mario Brothers. I can’t wait to go back and play with those games. Paul actually brought some of his old Nintendo games to play, but we were too busy conversing with tweeters in real life to be bothered with digital stimulation.

By the way, before our tweetup adventure, Paul took me to yet another Snoopy statue. This one is at Half Price Books in Saint Paul. Snoopy is lying on top of his doghouse which is painted all dark and stormy…which if you are unfamiliar, is what Snoopy would always start off with when he was attempting to write.

Peanuts, Twin Cities

Located at Half Price Books

I also appreciated the canine puns around the bottom of the doghouse. Edgar Allen Pooch? Bark Twain? Come on. That’s hilarious!

Road Trip to Minnesota: Day One

You can follow our hashtag too!

You can follow our hashtag too!

Anyone who has ever moved as an adult hates packing.  Even though I purged and purged, I was still forced to leave crap behind in California.  The essentials, sadly not including wine, were all that would fit into my Beetle.

In a frenzy, I had to decide what was needed (clothes for job interviews) and what could wait, (wine, fancy shoes, and some toiletries).  Half way through Nevada, I realized that I should have stashed at least one or two bottles of wine in some nook and/or cranny.

The first leg of our trip took us to Salt Lake City, 10 hours of driving.  Here’s the thing, Nevada is REALLY boring outside of Reno and Las Vegas.  Also, I’m so goddamn tired of driving my car over mountain passes.  I’m looking forward to the flatness of Nebraska.  I say that now…

One awesome thing in Nevada is the Deeth Starr Valley exit.  At this point, you are probably delirious with boredom, so Deeth Starr is obviously Death Star.  Just look at the tips people have left:

social media, travel

star wars quote, social media, travel

OK, that’s funny regardless.

For the first time in my life, I had to drive while it was snowing.  It was just a snow shower and nothing was really sticking to the ground, but it was a first nonetheless.

Finally, around 10:00 PM we made it to Salt Lake City.  Apparently there were some salt flats we passed.  I don’t know what visual trick goes on in my brain, but it was reflective like water.  I guess there are flat surfaces on the NaCl that reflect light like water.  Sorry to get all science-y (and probably wrong) there.

The only thing that kept me from going crazy was Paul, of course.  We traded off the driving duties and tried to keep each other entertained.  It’s nice to have someone else in the car, especially someone who makes me laugh so much.  I’m not used to long drives without either being alone or surrounded by family.

 

P.S. When Paul arrived at the airport, this is how I greeted him:

sign, greeting, social media, love

I was the crazy lady wearing a tiara and holding a sign at the airport.  Hopefully, I inspired someone to be a little crazy in the name of love because it certainly makes for an interesting anecdote.

Goodbye, Sacramento. Hello, Minnesota

The past two weeks I have been experiencing a lot of endings. Today I am unemployed. Work is over until I can find a new job or a new job finds me. I’m OK with this because I need a little break. Yes, it’s slightly worrisome, but I have a lot of beginnings to focus on now.

Well, I have a few more endings…a last meeting of the minds with some friends, one last family dinner on Sunday until the holidays or so. But, they will also be beginnings in a sense. My friends and some of my family will meet Paul. Yes, he’s real…oh so very real! Sorry, I started to swoon there for a bit, but can you blame me? He’s the most romantic person I’ve ever known.

Anyway, I’m trying not to fret about our upcoming road trip to Minnesota. Did I mention we are driving out there? We leave on Monday and four days and three nights later we will be beginning our lives together in the Twin Cities. We just have to make it through the snow and rain first. Correction, my car has to make it through the possible freezing temperatures first. The nice thing is that I won’t be alone in this endeavor. I’m not used to having someone there to support me, to help me, to share the burden. Mautomobile, vintagey family is very supportive, but it’s not the same. I feel guilty when I have to rely on them for something, like I’m not behaving like an adult.

Regardless, I want to enjoy my time in the car with Paul. We will get to listen to tons of music. Talk about how boring the scenery is in Nevada. Tell stories from our pasts. Make each other laugh. Plan for the future. How many couples get to spend that much time alone together at their leisure? Seriously, all we have to do is get to the next hotel.

One nice thing, a friend of mine from high school lives in Wyoming and has graciously offered to put us up for the night. It will be great to be able to visit with her and take a break from the road for a bit. And guess what folks? That all happened due to social media.

Spring sprang

Feels like sweat

Feels like sweat

It’s obvious that Sacramento wants me to leave. It was 85 degrees today. What the hell? It’s snowing in a part of the country. Did you know that? Here I am sweating in early April. I hate sweating. One of the things I’m looking forward to is not being in an area of the country when it’s hot for a majority of the year.

Granted, it’s not usually this hot in April. But, I still don’t like it. I’d rather deal with the cold. It’s easier to wrap up and get warm than it is to cool off.

When I moved to San Francisco in my early 20s, my number two reason for moving there was the weather. The fog kept this awful heat at bay (pun intended). My number one reason was because I wanted to live in a big city. My Central Valley life was just too boring.

So now I’m off to a place that will be in the high 40s when I arrive. Yes, I know it gets humid in the summer in Minnesota, but the summer isn’t as long as it is here. Say what you want about a dry heat. It’s still freaking hot!