Minnesota: The land of never ending winter?

MinnesotaWinterHumorYesterday, I had a mental breakdown. The drive home was so frightening that the moment I saw Paul, I burst into tears.  I was so happy to be alive and needed to relieve the pent up stress from white knuckle driving through downtown Minneapolis.

Honestly, why do you people live here? Do you not know California exists? I kept thinking to myself, “Why am I putting myself through this? Why is anyone driving? This is so dangerous.”

My first winter driving in slick conditions and it’s one of the worst the locals can remember. Also, I just hate driving in general.  Icy roads exacerbate my fears. It’s not the roads that scare me; it’s other people.  People are stupid and they drive.

Did I mention a bus slid past my car? Yes. A. Bus. A few inches to the right and I might not be writing this blog post.

So, my Beetle has to navigate along icy streets while I pray idiots in vehicles of varying size don’t kill me.

You know how people drive when it’s sunny and warm?  They do that when it’s -1 and icy snow is compacted beneath their tires.

Do you see that top photo?  That’s what the streets looked like last Saturday.  They still look like that on Tuesday.

I’ve reached my breaking point with this weather.  I worked from home today because I just couldn’t bring myself to get into the car.  I could feel a panic attack welling up inside me as I laid in bed trying to will myself to get out of it.

This craptastic weather is supposed to last for another week or two. Can someone please help me maintain my sanity?  I’ve thought about seeing a therapist, but I have a feeling it would go much like Sheldon talking to Leonard trying to overcome his stage fright. I would not be impressed.

The one and only time I’ve ever gone to a therapist, I remember thinking, “So, I’m not screwed up. This lady is pretty much giving me the same advice I’ve heard from my parents and my friends. I’m done here.”

I think my problem really stems from an overload of stress.  This winter is HIGHLY stressful to everyone.  Add to that planning a wedding, which I’m excited about, but is a stressor nonetheless.

Tomorrow the forecast is supposed to be god-awful again and driving conditions around the Twin Cities are not going to be improving. Paul’s class was canceled tonight “due to the impending weather” as he put it.

So, will winter ever end or have we entered another ice age?

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.


Review: Culinary Circle Pizzas


One of the things I like to keep in the freezer is a pizza.  It’s great for those moments when you realize you need to go to the grocery store…at mealtime…and you just don’t have the energy to do it.

So, when I was offered the chance to try Culinary Circle frozen pizzas, I was excited to add a new meal trick to my repertoire.  We got ours at the local Cub Foods.

OK, I just noticed some meatballs on that website and I want to find them!

Sorry, anyway we tried two different pizzas.  The first one was the flat bread Chicken, Bacon, and Ranch.  It was just OK. I’m not a fan of thin crust pizzas, so it”s really tough to win me over in this category.  It wasn’t bad, but it didn’t really blow me away. One good thing. Paul is a picky eater and seemed to enjoy this pizza.  I mean it does have bacon on it.

The other one we had was the Rising Crust Pepperoni.


It reminded me of a different brand that I enjoy. It was tasty and delightful.  The pepperoni was just spicy enough and not overly greasy.  The crust was soft and just chewy enough. It was easy to make.  Just preheat the oven, drop the pizza onto a cookie sheet and voila! Dinner is ready. Or lunch, depending on when you make it…

I will definitely be putting this in our freezer on a regular basis.

Kick hunger this holiday season

Kickhunger logo and url email graphicI’m a fortunate person. I know that just a simple twist of fate could make life difficult.  So, when I was asked to help out with a fundraising effort for Taste of the NFL and their Kick Hunger Challenge, I jumped at the opportunity.

What is this? Taste of the NFL helps to raise funds for food banks all across the country.  Through their Kick Hunger Challenge 100% of the proceeds go to food banks.  You find a team and the money donated will go to a local food bank…And a little goes a long way.

For every dollar donated, the food bank is able to provide 8 meals.

My office is raising funds for the Second Harvest Heartland food bank.  Our goal is to raise $5,000.  That’s 40,000 meals.

Not only are the holidays upon us, but the cold is too.  Many families are still struggling.  In fact, I was reading an article in the Star Tribune that said,

More than 554,000 Minnesotans get federal food assistance — one out of every 10 people in the state. A third are children. Another quarter are elderly or disabled adults. Contrary to popular stereotypes, a majority live in families where at least one adult earns a paycheck.

These aren’t lazy people who just won’t get a job.  Many are children, some are elderly or disabled, and others are just down on their luck.

latteSo, if you could even just give up that morning latte just once, you could provide about 28 meals.

If you do find it in your heart to help out, please designate me, Amy Ruiz, as your Jones Lang LaSalle contact.

Thank you for your support!

Whiskey Tango Plates

WhiskeyTangoToday while driving back from lunch, I noticed an odd Minnesota license plate.  Now, Minnesota has a TON of different kinds of license plates on the road.  Just look at this 11 page list from the Department of Public Safety.  Yep, 11 pages!

Regardless, I thought I’d seen one before and had wondered at its plainness…which usually is reserved for government type vehicles.

When I googled “white Minnesota license plate with black letters” the phrase “whiskey plate” showed up in the search results.  Ignoring that, I clicked on the description on the OMG! Facts page that said something about special DUI plates.  That’s right Minnesota has special license plates for people who have had two or more DUIs in the past 10 years or who have been caught with a blood alcohol level at twice the legal limit or higher.

Twice the legal limit is what we all know as fall down drunk.

While some of you might be thinking that’s kind of hardcore…it is. And I’m all for public shaming.

Now before you get your britches in a knot, the offender only has to have the plate for one year…but they have to have them on ALL of the vehicles they own.  So not only are you wearing the scarlet letter, but if your name is on the title of your kid’s car…so do they!  Fun for the whole family!

I saw some article where a guy was complaining about the fact that now everyone is his small town knows his business…because of the white license plate. Dude.  Get a grip. People in your town know your business, white license plate or not.  That’s how life in small towns work, right?  You can always move to a different state.

Speaking of public shaming, I found this website where the author was doing nothing but posting photos of various. Granted it doesn’t have many entries and they stopped updating it back in 2009, but my point is this is what I warned you all about on the internet.  Personally, my favorite photo is the one (or two) of the car with the Whiskey Plate outside of a liquor store.

Of course, now, every time I see a car that is driving like a jerk, I wonder if they have a whiskey plate.

Side note: If you search for Minnesota whiskey plate, you will get a shitton of attorney websites.  That’s some good SEO!

People of the Minneapolis Skyway

Minneapolis, Minnesota, Skyway, downtownOver the past two months, I’ve noticed patterns people have while wandering through the Skyway in Minneapolis. First of all, as far as I can tell, Macy’s is the worst place to be between 11:30 AM and 1:00 PM on any given weekday. You basically have to walk through half of the second floor to get from one building to the next. Whenever you are in said department store next, picture hundreds of people rushing through the area in which you are trying to shop. Yeah. It’s like that.

But not everyone rushes. You will find those who are on their mobile phones. There are two kinds of these people. Those who are texting, tweeting or just surfing the web while they wander through the IDS Center. Yep, I’m guilty of doing that, but I stay to the right and try to keep up with the flow of traffic.

And then there are those who are actually using the phone as a phone. Of these people you will find two subsets. One is on the phone for business. These are usually the quiet ones. They are on some godforsaken conference call and decided to run to Starbucks in the middle of it. Hello, *6 to mute your line! The others won’t shut the hell up. They are talking to some poor soul who can’t hear them over the roar of people walking, ambiance music playing, and groups of Target employees having a mobile meeting.

Speaking of groups of people, you will see more of these folks as lunch time nears. Odds are they walk about 3 abreast and don’t move out of the way of oncoming pedestrian traffic due some subconscious psychological need to be the Alpha Dog in the group.

If you see folks wandering around in groups at other times, the odds are pretty good they are Target employees. Rarely will you ever see a lone Target employee wandering through the Skyway. I think it’s a corporate mandate…or something. Don’t get mad Target. I kid because I love you.

Then there are the people who walk too damn close to me because they have to put out a fire in their conference rooms. Seriously, back the fuck off or I’ll cut you. I don’t care if you need to get to Caribou Coffee before the next meeting about TPS Reports. I need my personal space so I know you aren’t about to steal my purse or worse.

I am still baffled by the random appearance of strollers. I suppose they are new mothers who are stopping by the office to show off their babies, but some of those kids look to be a good year or two old.

Did I mention one time I saw a train of toddlers once? Literally. About 10 -15 of them were connected by some jimmy-rigged green belt that helped to corral them throughout the Skyway. I suppose they were on a field trip, but I doubt they were over the age of 5.

Bring on the oompa bands…

It’s Oktoberfest time and apparently that’s kind of a big deal in the Twin Cities.  I’m inferring that from the amount of Oktoberfest celebrations I’ve heard about on the web.  I think the last time I went to an Oktoberfest, I was about 5 years old. I remember there being quite a bit of peanuts and beer.

It was then that first heard about dark beer. It really did my parents in the next day.  No, I wasn’t scarred by their hangovers or drinking, so calm the hell down judgey-wudey.

Actually, I’ve always wanted to go to another Oktoberfest, but you know, as an adult, so I can drink beer.

One thing that keeps me from going is people. I kinda don’t like crowds of them. But, maybe if I’m full of beer, I won’t mind so much.

I do know I would love to see people dancing the polka. Which makes me realize that I probably shouldn’t be surprised that Oktoberfest is such a big deal here in Minnesota. I mean it was settled by quite a few German immigrants, a few of whom were also my ancestors.

So I guess the question is, which of these Oktoberfests will Paul & I attend?