Friday, November 26, 2010

Featured Shop ~ Sue Pariseau Pottery

Periodically I contribute an article to the HandmadeMN blog featuring the HandmadeMN members' shops on Etsy. I thought it would be nice to have those articles on my blog too; I really like the artists and shops I feature, and their wares might add a bit of class to my little corner of the blogosphere.

Now is the time we start thinking about holiday gift giving, and what better place to shop than from a Minnesota seller on Etsy.  Sue Pariseau Pottery is a good place to find beautiful things.

I like to give (as well as receive!) gifts that are useful.  Sue has some lovely works of art that are also useable and durable. 

One of the coolest inventions ever created is the butter bell.  Sue Pariseau Pottery offers a butter keeper that will not only keep butter fresh and creamy, but will also look classy on the dinner table.

How about this stunning burt-red serving bowl?  The detail is amazing and any hostess would love to serve her delicious veggies from a vessel like this.

I really like this next piece.  An apple baker!  Place a cored apple in the baker and voila, a delictable treat.  Sue even provides a recipe card!

Think food.  Think gift giving.  Think entertaining.  And when you think of these things think of Sue Pariseau Pottery for handmade pottery that is pretty and useful.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Day For Thanks

Don't forget to remember, between the bites of turkey and pumpkin pie, for what you are thankful.  I hope your list of gratitudes is as long as mine.  Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Another First

I've always been very verbal about my aversion to a stranger rubbing my naked body, i.e. massages. Lots of people have told me how much they love getting a massage once in a while. I would always tell them that is totally not for me.

Three months ago for my birthday I opened an envelope from certificates for not one but two massages.  I wanted to sound grateful, but dang it all, he knew I didn't want to ever have a massage.  He looked at me kindly and said, "you really need this."

I had my first massage.  And it was marvelous.  The best thing about it was, not only did it loosen up my tight muscles, it loosened up my tense and chaotic mind.  I'm so glad Husby gave me two gift certificates, because I'm totally going back for another. 

You'll have to excuse me now while I continue to completely relax...for a change.

Monday, November 22, 2010

My First Private Showing

This past weekend marked another first for Auntie B's Wax.  Thanks to the marvelous and generous Ruthie (of the famed Dive Night Ruthie and  Ray) my products were featured at a pre-holiday private shopping party.

Think Tupperware party without the burping. 

A bunch of ladies got together for some savory appetizers, sweet nibbles, and of course libations.  Then they went to town with some early Christmas shopping right in the comfort of Ruthie's house.  I offered a nice variety of winter/holiday-scented candles, bottle cap magnets, pulp fiction magnets, and the ever-popular bottle cap drink charms.


We all had a nice time and I can't thank Ruthie enough for giving me the opportunity to show my wares to her most discerning friends, who apparently took a liking to what I had to offer.

I'd like to extend more thanks to Deb, Deb, Sandy, Shannon, Leigh, Cary, Mari, and Ginny for attending the party and making it a lot of fun, and also for believing my handmade goodies to be fine enough to give as gifts this holiday season.  You guys made my weekend!

**Opening photo compliments of  Free Christmas Wallpapers.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Funeral Day

Today is funeral day.

It makes me think how death is so devastating, and yet so life affirming.  Of course no one can sum it up better than Cat Stevens and the movie Harold and Maude.

Even though someone very wonderful is no longer with us, she's inspired me to take a big bite out of life and to be just who I  am.  Because the opportunity's on.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Breathe Deep

Sometimes you can see the life you want to live, but have no idea how to achieve it.  Worse still is knowing how to achieve it but not having the capacity to move toward the dream.

What do you do when you can picture it all but stand stagnant at the thought of making the changes? 

There are people around me who are going through some pretty heavy times lately.  Some brush them aside hoping that they will just go away if ignored.  Others are so burdened with the weight of things thrust upon them their spirits are crushed, their hope is just a sliver of light they can barely see.

Their sense of direction is confused by the darkness that surrounds them ~ a suffocating blindness.  There is so much to tend to, but where does one start if one can't see anything but everything?

The feeling of being overwhelmed by things like grief, responsibility, commitment, or anger is enough to make a person just let the darkness envelope them.  The fight is too much like treading water in a violent storm at sea.  It's easier to just give in and let the cold, black water have its way.

When your head spins and thoughts race through your brain take a moment to sit and breathe deep.  Remember yourself.  If the things that overwhelm you didn't exist, what would you be doing?  Then take some time away from the demands of all that is consuming you and enjoy yourself, even if it's only for ten minutes.  Do something that has nothing to do with what is required of you.  Think of something that has nothing to do with the matters of your emotional turmoils.

They call it clearing your head.  No, a cluttered and confused head can't be cleared instantly.  But bit by bit, minute by minute, the more time you put into clearing your head the more you will be able to overcome the more dreadful aspects of your mind, body, and life in general.  Bit by bit, minute by minute.

Take the time to remove yourself from the chaos.  Before too long that little sliver of light called hope becomes brighter and creates a clearer path for you.  Soon enough you will see the light and the things that overwhelm you will be brought back down to size.  And the life you imagined, the one that used to be so unreachable, will finally be the life you live.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Dive Night, Part 2 ~ River Garden Bar

Dive Night is a once monthly adventure undertaken by me and Husby, along with our friends Ruthie and Ray. Each couple alternates choosing a restaurant, one which must come under the category of "dive." Our definition of dive: a neighborhood gathering spot hiding under the radar. Casual atmosphere and good food. We're out to find the best food in the Minneapolis/St Paul area without having to pay a fortune or dress up. A sip of beer or wine doesn't hurt either.  See a list and links to the previous dive night posts here.

Our Dive Night experience taken on the Friday before Halloween with Ruthie and Ray started out at Psycho Suzi's Motor Lounge.  That was definitely an experience of the good kind.  You can read about it here.  The thing is, we were in Nordeast, old stomping ground for Husby and Ray, and we couldn't leave the area without stopping by to call on Tony Jaros.  OK, we couldn't really visit Tony Jaros because, well, he'd dead.  More specifically, the River Garden Bar.  Yikes.

For those of you who are totally out of the loop (like I am), this bar is home to The Greenie.  I've heard about The Greenie for years from Husby.  Apparently Ray has reminisced about the River Garden and Greenies too.  It's a stiff drink, but you'd never know it because it is so dang sweet and tasty.  So without further adieu I give you...The Greenie.

All I can say is, the River Garden Bar is a place where people go to get drunk.  It is also a trendy stop for people who think it's quirky to go into dive bars just to drink up the atmosphere.  It's got character and characters.

This guy was constantly on his phone, but could only see it with one eye closed. 

Husby and Ray loved returning to their old stomping ground, the River Garden Bar.  Apparently it is one of those places where you can go back and relive those days of yore because it hasn't changed a lick in decades.  Ruthie and I loved sitting at the bar making up stories about all the other people, speculating about who will go home with whom, what they do for a living, and what their lives are like.  Of course we would label them with names like The Russian, Staring Guy, Artsy Girl, and Tight Lips.  Great fun.

There were also a bunch of mice who came into the bar.  Humans dressed as mice.  I don't know if they were supposed to be rats or mice.  Doesn't matter, they were a very fun bunch and I just had to take a picture of a couple of them before we left.

I'll remind you we were out the Friday before Halloween, so I assume these guys are dressed for that occasion and don't normally go out in their black long underwear, white gloves, and mouse ears, but I could be wrong.  They were much fun, no matter what.

So all I can say is the dive dining and drinking for October was quite an experience.  The food at Psycho Suzi's was great, the Greenies* at River Garden were great.  Of course the company of Ruthie and Ray can't be beat.  It was the most memorable Halloween weekend I've had in a long time.

* The River Garden Bar also makes Blueys (sp?), Pinkies, and Purpleys (again, sp?).  The Blueys taste like Sweet Tarts, and uncannily so.  If you drink too many of all of these drinks you will no doubt barf rainbows.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Dive Night, Part 1 ~ Psycho Suzi's Motor Lounge

Dive Night is a once monthly adventure undertaken by me and Husby, along with our friends Ruthie and Ray. Each couple alternates choosing a restaurant, one which must come under the category of "dive." Our definition of dive: a neighborhood gathering spot hiding under the radar. Casual atmosphere and good food. We're out to find the best food in the Minneapolis/St Paul area without having to pay a fortune or dress up. A sip of beer or wine doesn't hurt either.  See a list and links to the previous dive night posts here.

It's been a while since I've posted about Dive Night with Ruthie and Ray because, well, it's been a while since we've done it.  You know how life gets sometimes.  That's what's been happening with us.  Because it has been a while since the last Dive Night we decided to do it big.  The best place to find a dive in the Twin Cities?  None other than Nordeast!

I'm not too familiar with the northeast Minneapolis, but I don't get out much.  Those of you who know anything probably know about the place we chose as our monthly dive.  Psycho Suzi's Motor Lounge

Psycho Suzi's used to be an A&W Rootbeer stand.  They've given the old drive-in quite a substantial makeover.  Think tiki.  We went the Friday before Halloween, so the place was decorated for the holiday and some of the patrons were in costumes.  All of that just added to the fun.

The employee of the month is featured prominently next to the restrooms.  I especially liked her quote.

And the bathrooms were aptly labeled.

They even serve exotic Polynesian drinks in volcano cups.

But enough about the decor.  Let's talk about the food.  Oh, the food.  We started with appetizers, fried cheese curds and Brown Sugar Babies.  The latter are bacon-wrapped smokies with a bourbon brown sugar glaze.  OMG.  And the cheese curds had the most delicate, tempura-like batter that was unlike any I've had before and were served with a marinara sauce.  Personally, I thought the dipping sauce was unnecessary.

On to the main course.  I'll confess I was a little disappointed that everyone wanted pizza.  Pizza?  Well, little did I know that Psycho Suzi is known for her pizza.  I went along with the majority's consensus and each couple chose a different one.  I'm so glad we got pizza. 

These may look like ordinary pizzas, but they were far from it.  The crust was deliciously thin and crispy.  Ruthie and Ray ordered the Four Barrel pizza, which has spicy sausage, red onions, roasted red peppers, and feta and mozarella with the house red sauce.  Husby and I ordered The Barris with caramelized onions, sun-dried tomato, oregano and goat cheese.  
It's been a while since I've had a pizza that diverts from the standard Domino's-type.  Not that there's anything wrong with Domino's, but they don't roast peppers, they don't caramelize onions, and they sure as heck don't use feta and goat cheeses.  All of us sampled each pizza and all of us liked both.  Well, I more than liked.  I wondered where this pizza had been all my life.  At Psycho Suzi's all along.

Check out Suzi's website ~ it's as entertaining as the ambiance, service, and clientele of the restaurant. 

We couldn't end the evening with Psycho Suzi's.  After all, we'd been having that life thing I was referring to earlier, and it had been so long since the four of us had been out.  We found a way to ward off  Stay tuned for Part 2 of this Dive Night post and find out where we partook in a little nightcap.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

A List

1.  Being overwhelmed can sometimes be cured by a cup of hot chocolate, a lemon-blueberry scone, and the understanding of a very good friend.

2.  Once a hobby becomes a real live business everything changes.  For better?  For worse?  That's yet to be determined.  But I think it's mostly for better.

3.  Sometimes a computer can suck the life right out of you.  Just because technology is available doesn't mean you have to be connected to it at all times. 

4.  Nike never spoke a more truer truth than when they told us to Just Do It.  It's the answer to all accomplishments.

5.  There is nothing real about the housewives.  Claw your way out of the vortex of spoiled shrews.

6.  You know you're getting older when the first thing on your Christmas wish list is a little hand fan you can tuck away in your purse to use at a moment's notice, several times a day.

7.  More parents should use cloth diapers on their babies.  They're better for the environment and the babies are potty trained much earlier. 

8.  Santa, snowmen, elves, and especially doorbuster department store sales should not make an appearance until Thanksgiving.

9.  If there has to be such a thing as daylight savings time it should only be during the summer months.  Those of us who enjoy reverse seasonal affective disorder (a preference for the darker hours) are getting ripped off.

10.  Sometimes a paper chain really helps ~ even if it consists of over 1800 links.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Does This Ever Happen To You?

One night I was overcome with the same sensation I had when I visited Alaska.  My writing skills aren't tuned well enough to describe the feeling, but all of the sudden I felt the same way I did when I was sitting in a lounge with Husby, sipping our cocktails by the light of the midnight sun.

I wanted to rise up and fly away to that place.  To feel small in the vastness of nature.  To know once again there is strength in beliefs that are beyond belief.  In my mind and heart I wandered back to Alaska.

There has never been a place that has inspired me so.  To imagine with abandon.  To feel capable of realizing all of my dreams.  A place to which my mind can return in times of despair or merely in the plain old tedium of the day-to-day.  The glory and grandeur of nature.

It was almost uncomfortable, this longing.  To stand on a mountainside.  To sail on open water.  To walk through a forest so silent and so filled with wonders.  Smell the cedar and breathe deeply, for you will never capture air so pure anywhere else.

What happened in my mind that night?  Why did it take me to Alaksa?  I could have analyzed it all, but instead I wanted to just remain in the stillness I remembered.  The quiet.  The simplicity.  The challenge.  The courage.

I want to see it again.  I want to feel the cold of a glacier beneath my feet while the sun beats down on my face.  I wanted to look into the black sky and see a whole universe of stars. 

I don't know why I was overcome that night with the same feelings I had in the midst of the wilderness and freedom I found in Alaksa.  Perhaps it's a sign that I'm ready to fly.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Simple Luxury

In the cold of the night

After a long hard day

When weary muscles need warmth

And a cluttered brain needs calm

There is nothing more indulgent

Than an evening bath

Photo compliments of Victorian Trading Co. ~ buy the print here.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Therapeutic Music

Not long ago I spent about nine hours in the car...alone.  I absolutely love traveling in a car alone, second only to being in the passenger's seat reading magazines and dozing while someone else drives. 

One of the reasons I like traveling alone is that I can slip in any CD I want and listen to many times as I want.  Depending on my mood I could be listening to anything from John Denver to Jean Michel Jarre. 

On this past trip I took I realized something interesting.  I really like music with an upbeat tune and a morose message.  An example of this can be found repeatedly on the Supertramp album Breakfast In America.  The Logical Song, Take The Long Way Home and Breakfast In America are my favorites. 

Of course I can't talk about music without mentioning my long-time favorite, Queen.  Queen also has a song with a really jolly tune, yet the song's message is pretty insightful, jaded, and downright sad depending on what period of life you're in.  That song is Good Company.  Brian May plays his magical mandolin banjo (or is it a banjo mandolin?) with an upbeat ting and the lyrics say things like "reward of all my efforts my own limited company," and one of my all time favorite quotes "all through the years in the end it appears there was never really anyone but me." 

Music is a powerful churn for emotions.  Strangely enough I am drawn to music that will make me tap my foot, bop my head, and feel melancholy all at the same time. 

For your enjoyment, Good Company by Queen...

Take good care of what you've got
My father said to me
As he puffed his pipe and baby B
He dandled on his knee
Don't fool with fools who'll turn away
Keep all good company oohoo oohoo
Take care of those you call your own and keep good company

Soon I grew and happy too
My very good friends and me
We'd play all day with Sally J
The girl from number four
And very soon I begged her
Won't you keep me company?
Oohoo oohoo oohoo oohoo
Come marry me for evermore
We'll be good company

Now marriage is an institution sure
My wife and I our needs and nothing more
All my friends by a year by and by disappeared
But we're safe enough behind our door

I flourished in my humble trade my reputation grew
The work devoured my waking hours but when my time was through
Reward of all my efforts my own limited company

I hardly noticed Sally as we parted company

All through the years in the end it appears
There was never really anyone but me

Now I'm old I puff my pipe but no one's there to see
I ponder on the lesson of my life's insanity
Take care of those you call your own
And keep good company

Monday, November 01, 2010

A Quiet Afternoon At The Lake

A couple of weeks ago I spent the weekend with my family at the cabin in the woods.  It was a wet and gloomy weekend, which was perfect for me because I'm a freak of nature and love that kind of weather, but didn't bode well for all the work we had to do outside to close up the cabin for the winter. 

No matter, Pinky decided to brave the foggy, misty weather and headed down to the dock with his fishing pole.  The pleasure found in hunting down and killing an animal is lost on me, and fishing is no different.  However, escaping a very tiny cabin filled with seven people and rhythmically casting and reeling a line seems like it could be a rather calming and meditative activity.  That aside, the fisherpeople in my family don't normally fish to meditate, they fish to catch fish.  I guess it's a man versus nature thing.

Pinky had been down at the lake casting and reeling for a little while when my mom heard his voice calling "Fojo!  Come here Fojo!"  She told Fojo his dad was calling for him and before too long we all knew Pinky needed help.  He snagged a big one.

It was not only a big one, it was a muskie.  Muskies are the most sought-after fish on our lake.  They are known to eat little ducklings and nip at the toes of swimmers.  It is now the rule that if you are fortunate enough to win the battle with a muskie on the end of your line you must not release it back into the lake.  They're just too monstrous and damaging to all the other living things in the small body of water.  So Pinky and Fojo watched as the muskie fought to get that hook out of its mouth.  And Pinky worked his plan ever so carefully.  He'd let the line out...then reel it in.  He'd let the line out...then reel it in. 

Fojo stood by with the net, patiently waiting for his dad to bring the mighty fish closer to shore.  He probably even gave Pinky some pointers, as he is a passionate fisherman himself.  Pinky continued to let the line out...and reel it in.  Let the line out...and reel it in.  Finally the fish gave its last heroic efforts at survival as it was being drawn closer and closer to shore.  Fojo was ready with the net with a look of awe and excitement as he caught his first glimpse of the fish.

The rest of us on shore, very quietly anticipating a virtual monster to spring from the water, finally got to see what Pinky had been fighting with for the last twenty minutes.  The tired fish was being reeled toward the water's surface.

The mighty fish gave a good fight, but Pinky was finally triumphant with Fojo's help. 

When it was released from the net Fojo and his brother Paenney protested when Pinky wanted to put the fish out of its misery by means of a very heavy pipe to the head.  Mount the mighty fish head they would!  "Don't smash it, just let it suffocate."

Now I realize that Pinky had put in a great effort to catch a fish that is known to be difficult to catch.  I also realize that it's just a fish and who cares?  I'm not a PETA freak or anything but there's something in watching a living thing suffer that just makes me want to cry.  The mighty fish tried so hard to get oxygen through its big gills I was nearly compelled to give it mouth to gill resuscitation.  Of course that would require me to put my lips on a slimy old fish and I was not having that. 

Seems my mom felt like I did about the poor suffering fish, so she decided to put her gift into action.  You see, she is the Fish Whisperer.  She guided the fish into the next life as it lay struggling on the ground.

Finally, the fish gave up the fight of its life.  I won't get into the gruesome activity that occurred after it gasped for the last time ~ suffice it to say there is a fish head affixed to and curing on a wooden board in hopes that next summer there will be a mighty fish skull ready to mount on the walls of the cabin.  (The older my nephews get the more animal parts there are hanging on the walls at that place.  So much for the "charming" cottage decor.)

Congratulations to Pinky for the catch of the year.  Kudos to Fojo for the quick and accurate assistance he provided.  It was a good fish.  It was a mighty fish.  It is one less fish that will nip at my toes come swimming season.

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