You thought your car tires were expensive?

Price out a set of these badboys! 

I passed this oversized load on I-80 as I travelled through Iowa. I believe they mate to the Caterpillar 797 series dump trucks. Goto: 



Honeypie Cafe, Bayview, MKE, WI, Take 2

In what can only be described as a Christmas Eve Eve miracle, I was able to swing back into MKE and have dinner at this great spot in Bayview.

I don't have pictures of all our food, but it was all delicious. We were so hungry that even the pics I do post are of half-eaten plates...because it looked to good to wait and the vultures I went with gave me no time for pics. (kidding on the vultures part) How about starting the meal with Pork Fries? Think Irish Nachos with pulled pork on top. And on a super cold winter night, how about a Chicken Biscuit Pie? Fuggettaboutit!

Finally, the pie. This was a long time coming and totally worth the wait. We had our thinking caps on and "reserved" two slices even before being seated for dinner. This pie is the stuff of legends. Cookies n' Cream and Butterscotch. Wow.

Bradstreet Crafthouse, Minneapolis, MN

You know this restaurant and cocktail lounge is located in the Graves Hotel, right? Have you been able to check it out yet? No. Why not? Go ahead, get over there for some tasty small plates and one-drink-is-probably-enough cocktails.

Oh, the cocktails shown below are non-alcoholic, so they have that option covered too...and they were equally delicious.


Forage Modern Workshop, Minneapolis, MN

Having been in a few times now, I know Forage offers a few unique aspects. It's a furniture store, it's an arts n crafts store, it's a MN-made showcase, it's a sustainable materials store, and it's a gift shop.

I always find things to look at closely and often wish to purchase. These have to be the best doormats ever (pic). They have a ton more fun, creative, soft, interesting, smell-nice items too. You'd be surprised.

Plus, it shares its space with Parka, a great place for Dogwood coffee, a quick bite, or a full-on upscale dinner. As them about their "effervescent white chocolate", if you dare.


Glad Sankta Lucia Dagens

For anyone in Sweden, and other Scandinavian countries, today is a special pre-Chirstmas ("Jul") holiday known as Sankta Lucia Dagens, and one of the few days in which they celebrate a saint. They seem to celebrate mostly with a ceremony for the children, having special "pageants" at schools. The most trippy part is one young girl is chosen to wear a wreath of candles on her head in the procession. I think in years past it was actual lit candles, but I'm not sure they use open flames now.

I know, awesome picture quality...
I know some people that actually went to one today to watch their kids take part (or at least stand silently and give emotional support to their classmates).

You can read more about it HERE.
And I thought this VIDEO was also helpful.


I have a confession

... I love fruitcake. The oddly moist-with-alcohol cake. The strangely chewy preserved fruit. The moderate lightheadedness after eating too much as a kid (and adult). I love it.

And black jelly beans too.


Beef, Pork & Rutabaga

...yes, I do want those three flavors in a compact pastry wrapped bundle! And half of this WI-born pasty has over 500 calories. I can see why it would be great to take down a mine shaft for lunch. It also makes a decent dinner, for non-miners.

By the way, it is pronounced "past-ey"...do not pronounce it "paste-ey" (the latter you can find in stripclubs).


More things made of money

This very interesting and good-looking wall and floor treatment can be found at Homeslice Pizza in Chicago's Lincoln Park/DePaul neighborhood.

I can't recall ever seeing it before and think it's a great re-use of pennies. It also brings up some questions, like, "Did someone place each penny on the floors and walls of the room?", but maybe I should just leave it at, cool.


Honeypie Cafe, Bayview, MKE, WI

Did you ever find such a cool place you went back twice in one day? And made a mental note to make sure you go back again and again? Honeypie in Milwaukee's Bayview neighborhood fit the bill on my birthday.

We started by having a great brunch right when they opened, and wound up going back after dinner for a b-day cupcake (see other post).

I started the day with the "Farmer's Breakfast", which includes French toast. I was full alright. We enjoyed seeing all the people fill up the place as we ate. Everyone's food in our group was good. Fresh fruit cups, light and flavorful quiches, and how could you miss the pie and cupcake cases (yes, one case for each). Not only is the food on point, the staff is, the bathrooms are, and the beverages are too. It's a great little "slice" (get it!?) of a neighborhood place done right. Kudos, Honeypie.

As luck would have it, it wound up being on our way home from dinner, and I decided to get one more drink and cupcake. The beer I chose was a great winter ale all the way from Sweden, perfekt!

One final note, while my cupcake was enjoyable, it was clear after sitting by the pie case that this is one area that really shines, just by the volume of people coming in to order by the slice. I will have to go back...mmmm, pie.


B-Day Cupcake

As the name card suggests, this made a perfect cupcake after a pizza dinner. 

Check out the Honeypie post for more details on where this was located.


Need some extra light in your life?

Get some candles!!!
Do you find yourself now leaving for and coming home from work in the dark? Could you use a little bit of relaxation at the end of the day? Would you like some fresh, seasonal smells filling your house?
I've recently been introduced to Illume Candles. They have a wonderful selection of candles for yourself and the ones you love. I can attest to the positive benefits firsthand.
Feel free to poke around their site and do something a bit nice for yourself....Don't spend winter in the dark.
The one on the right smells EXACTLY like a burnign wood fire. I don't know how they do it, probably something with magic


Alexis Bailly Vineyard, Hastings, MN

We ventured out southeast of the Twin Cities for a special wine and food pairing event.

It was a simple enough drive and well-run event. I was a little surprised how much after dinner wine (like port, with sharper acid bite and higher alcohol content) was produced and served as a percentage of the wines, but maybe that's what people like now. The standard wines they offered were very palatable.



The Responsible Economy - The Parable of the Iron Pan, Bob Massie [via Patagonia]

I've been of fan of these articles from the outset. I've taken the liberty of copy/pasting the words onto this page, but it can be seen in its original location HERE.
The Parable of the Iron Pan
by Bob Massie
Holiday 2013
Many years ago, when I was in my 20s, I lived in a small apartment in New Haven, Connecticut. I had a chair, a bed, a lamp and some books, and that was about it. I particularly lacked items for my kitchen, and I needed to eat, so I began searching for cooking utensils.

One brilliant Saturday morning in the fall, I found myself stepping carefully through an estate sale at an elegant old white-shingled New England house. In the back hall I found a 12-inch iron frying pan. It was $2. I bought it and brought it home. Made by the Griswold Manufacturing Company, it was almost 90 years old at that time, and I have cooked with it for another 35. Today it is half as old as the United States.

I often think of that pan when I am asked what kind of economy we should build in a world in which 7 billion people long to prosper on a planet with limited resources. As human beings, we are drawn to the new – new ideas, new technology, new styles. From childhood, we long to create and to grow, and to move freely. The joy of freedom and expansion has been built into everything from our economic theories to our advertising. Yet today we must recognize that exponential growth is both alluring and illusory, an instinct that is out of alignment with the lessons and limits of nature.

The goal of the emergent "New Economy" is to redirect the vast power of our forwardlooking imaginations to redefine a future that is simultaneously prosperous, just and sustainable. To succeed we will need the wisdom of both invention and conservation.

The New Economy offers enormous hope because it is a blend of the best thinking and values from the past and the future. One of its central principles is cooperation. On my city block, we don't have a snowblower at every address; Tony, who is also one of our aldermen, runs his machine up and down the sidewalk. Ed, who lives next door, takes our dog when he goes out for a walk with his. George keeps an eye on the house from across the street.

In the New Economy, neighborly behavior is becoming common among strangers. Millions are making their possessions, their cars and their homes available, sometimes for a small payment and often for free. And it's not just about objects; people are also offering up their learning, their ideas and their stories. They are working together in new forms of democratic businesses and associations. In fact, the New Economy is revealing something that our ancestors understood better than we do. The core idea at the heart of every economics textbook – that we are coldly rational and implacably selfish – is simply wrong. We are hard-wired to share.

What does this mean for ownership? How does it affect our sense of freedom? If there are 114 million households in the United States, does that mean that we need 114 million of everything? In my house our plumber once wanted to install the largest possible water heater to handle the peak load, just in case everyone in the whole house wanted to take a shower at the same time. We are told that we need to own one – or 10 – of everything so that our wishes can simultaneously be satisfied. But this peak-load panic creates massive duplication and waste. The impulsive satisfaction of desire is common to children and teenagers, but we must embrace a calmer and more patient path as adults.

Yet in truth, I have hundreds of things that I use only rarely. Right now the iron pan is hanging silently next to the stove. If Ed wanted to borrow it tonight, I would happily hand it over. So maybe, at least in the world of iron pans, we really actually need only 57 million of them to meet the needs of all American households. And if three families shared, we might need only about 40 million. And if every iron pan lasted more than a century, perhaps we need to make only a few hundred thousand a year.

With these kinds of ideas, New Economy thinking turns the question of possession on its head. It pushes us to examine the relationship between what we have and what we need. It asks us to rethink the boundaries of ownership, participation and cooperation. It reminds us that we don't need to own everything in order to benefit from it; that's why we invented public parks, public libraries and public schools. After all, we are not a nation of hermits; we form a thousand kinds of families and communities, associations and businesses to do things together. This is smart, sane and efficient.

The New Economy invites us to balance our delight for the new with respect for the durable. My house is 100 years old, and we are the third family to live here. My wife and I are caring for it so that it will serve a fourth family for another generation after we are gone. In the same way, I want to protect the woods and the water we love in Maine, just as tens of millions of Americans are caring for their own cherished places across the rest of the nation.

Viewed this way, the puzzle of how to live on this planet is not actually that complicated. We must reject the ugly image that we are primarily consumers, a kind of warm-blooded locust whose purpose is to chew through the planet. We must lighten our pressure on the world and on ourselves. We must conserve what we love and build what will last.

If you come by my neighborhood, you can borrow my iron pan. And in another few decades, after some young couple has picked it up at my estate sale, I expect they will lend it out too.


Shoe Shine Kit, Inherited

Some of you may recall that our 98 1/2 year old grandfather passed away earlier this year. He was the only grandfather I knew and gave most of my brothers & sisters tons of happy childhood memories (grandma too of course).
Each of the grandkids had the chance to pick out one or two things before the house and its contents were sold. I picked a few things out and luckily remembered a shoe shine kit in the basement before it was too late (thanks, Sis!)
This is the finished project
I can't definitively tell if my grandpa made it from scratch, from a kit, or bought it new. I think I new my grandpa well enough to know he wouldn't buy something he could make...and the craftsmanship on this item (and others) reminds me of his basement workshop (solid, but not so perfect a machine made it). So, I like to think he made it with his own hands.
I drove it home in the way-back of my car. Once home, I realized the dampness of the basement it lived in for many years, plus a very hot & humid car-ride to MN made the glue fail. It was falling apart when I got it back to MN.
So, I decided to make it an improvement project and refurbish it. I took it completely apart, sanded down all the mating surfaces, dug out chunks of dried glue, cleaned all pieces thoroughly with Murhpy's spray cleaner (much easier to use than the liquid soap), and re-glued everything back together with Gorilla Glue for wood.
It was a good feeling to give something my grandpa made new life. I think it turned out pretty well.



Yum, Minneapolis, MN

This is just a quick hit post after a GREAT breakfast at Yum this weekend. I'd passed this place many times and am kicking myself for not going in before now.
The breakfast fare is perfect for a weekend, the coffee bar will make you your favorite hot  coffee-based beverage, and they have a selection of sweet treats that make it hard to say 'no'. On top of that normal stuff, they had very friendly service and a very inviting seating area.
You should go in, very soon. Don't wait as long as I did.
The "invitation" starts as soon as you walk in and try to make your first decisions
The "Yum" plate... eggs, sausage patties, has browns, and a great piece of challah with their own jam. The patties also seemed like a little hot italian sausage - so good!
Someone's breakfast sandwich with great crispy bacon on what seemed to be a homemade English muffin - also outstanding and hitting the spot on a Saturday morning

I bet you didn't know...

... US dollar bills can be ground up and made into a table top!!! We have one in a conference room at work and almost everytime I'm in a meeting I find myself staring at it. I've liked trivia and facts about US money for a long-time, and this one is very unique.

You can see all the bits of a dollar bill in this pic:


University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, Hedge Maze

What kind of person, young or old, wouldn't like to run a hedge maze?! A crazy person that's who... ok, maybe someone using a walker too... or afraid of bushes... or little kids running around them. Anyways, the arboretum has a really well done maze, which I'd like to highlight here. The pics below should help, but don't take my word for it - check it out for yourself, Sucka!

The late afternoon sun provided a great backdrop to the hedge maze, and right away you have to choose left or right? I don't know which one!!!

At many of the dead-ends / turn-arounds, the creators placed these clever signs, with different slogans of encouragement. While I suspect they work well on children, they had the same effect on me

The end of the maze is a nice, two story lookout over the entire site. It was a great place for a triumphant end, and well used by all participants. The colored walls in the pic can be opened or closed to provide a different maze depending on the ones chosen 


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