Monday, June 24, 2013

Duck Update

Just a quick update regarding our Web-footed Guests from May 5, 2013.  The ducks hung around for almost a week and then they disappeared, probably because of the lawn mowers that had come by.  When I went for a walk one day, I saw them (or another pair that looked like them) about half a mile away in another yard.  Still no water around, and still a rather populated area for these two, but there they were.

Then, one day the green-headed drake returned, all by himself.  I'll admit I was a bit upset because I thought he had lost his mate to some tragedy - a run-in with a car, some adventurous canine, or the "jungle" gray Tabby that lives a few doors down that has actually caught squirrels.

The drake waddled up and down along the driveways, among the puddles, vocalizing in sharp quacks, as though searching for his partner. I felt so sorry for him.  But after a few days, they returned again—both of them.  They had parked farther away, close to the house with the big barking dog, and the next day they were behind the neighbor's gas meter. 

Then after another day, they were gone, and I haven't seen them since.  But I'm very glad they stopped in to say goodbye!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Coffee Snob Update

A year ago I wrote a blog called the Art of Coffee, and here, 12 months later, I've found a few more favorite places to enjoy a deep indulgent roast whether I'm just stopping in, hanging out to chat with a friend, carving out gel-penned edits on a manuscript, planning a tutoring assignment or sitting at a table with discreet gestures as I do armchair choreography.

I've also changed my drink preferences.  I've been trying to cut down on sugar, so instead of getting my soy hazelnut or macadamia latte that I've enjoyed for many years, I go for just a plain soy latte, sometimes adding a drizzle of honey or a sprinkle of raw sugar.  So, most important for me now is to find places that have really great tasting coffee because I'm no longer hiding it behind the flavor shots.

A great grab-and-go place is Matchbox Coffee at 2nd St NE in Minneapolis.  There are just a few tables and a counter—not many places to sit, but they have very fine coffee for probably the best price in town.  The walls are covered with work from local artists and there are notices posted for local music and art shows.

Not too far away there's the Coffee Shop NE on Johnson and 29th Ave. NE.   The size of the place is deceptive; you walk in and it seems like the average-sized place, but then you realize the shop goes way back and opens up into a larger room with several tables, a play area for children and room for music and poetry readings.  Great coffee, great atmosphere, and they even have a few gluten free items.

Over in Roseville at 2441 Rice Street, a few blocks north of highway 36 is J. Arthurs.  I love how they decorate the foam on my soy latté.  This place gets first prize for great hang out location.  The shop has several tables and a fireplace surrounded by comfortable couches.  Two sections can be closed off for meetings, and I've seen a few writers' groups convening there.

My friends introduced me to Crema Cafe several years ago after we had taken a walk around Lake Harriet.  Crema has a European feel with murals on the walls and an extended garden terrace eating area with a wrought-iron gate.  Before I had my food allergies, I enjoyed several of their gourmet menu items as well as their featured Sonny's ice cream, but now I just go for sorbet or coffee.  Here, I usually get a Soy Joy - coffee, soy milk, honey, chocolate and cinnamon.  It's like eating a candy bar!  Crema is on the corner of Lyndale and W. 34th St. in South Minneapolis.

Another fun place is Silverwood Park Café at 2500 County Road E W in New Brighton.  Silverwood Park itself is a great place that integrates art and nature.  After roaming the trails you can enjoy your coffee in the gallery that displays nature-inspired student works or sit out on the deck and watch the sunset.

Also in New Brighton is Limu Coffee at 500 5th Ave.  I found this place only because I saw the sign along 35W near the County Road E2 exit.  It's tucked away a few streets west of 35W.  Limu is owned by Gedam Azeze from Ethiopia and specializes in the authentic coffee experience.  Her website is very informative and states, "Coffee time, more than just an ordinary coffee break, symbolizes an important get-together of family members."  This has been very appropriate since I've met one of my sisters here for morning chats.


Of course, I also like making my own coffee at home where I can control the strength and add other elements.  I will call my place either the O Café or Chez Minneapple. Sometimes I lace my drinks with a bit of sipping chocolate, cardamom or maple syrup.  I can also add a dollop of dairy free coconut milk or soy ice cream which are currently unavailable at the shops.  

For Christmas another one of my sisters gave me this coffee mug.  She likes teasing me about my coffee habit, and in return, I like teasing her about her wine habit.  Thanks, sis! :-)