Thursday, June 21, 2012

Bookstores

Tonight, Patrick had a reading from Enough at Subtext, a new bookstore that just opened last week underneath Nina's on Selby and Western. It's got a charming, funky vibe, and a lot of great titles facing out and encouraging me to read them. The space is one that was, until recently, the home of Common Good Books, which has now moved a little farther down at Grand and Snelling; I ordered a book recently and picked it up there and lingered for quite some time, enjoying the booky comfort of the space. And, if you know us, you know that our our own home is jam-packed with books, loosely organized by theme but not so much so that you can't go in search of one volume and get distracted by another one.

I feel, however, guiltily sad. Pretty much everything I read right now I download to my Kindle. I've even found myself downloading books I have in traditional form to the Kindle, because then they are very light and transportable and easy to read. I like throwing it in my purse so that I can read if I have a spare minute, and having the app on my phone for those truly unexpected times. Having the e-reader means I read a lot more than I would have, and a lot more diversity as well.

But bookstores have always been my de facto gathering place. I love the sense of community they give, and the way they encourage conversation — "Have you read this? What do you think of this?" A bookstore, to me, is the ultimate retail experience.

I don't know how to meld those two things, and I wish I did.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Butcher and the Boar

My dad reminded me today that I never got to Part 2 of the anniversary post ... dinner.

Since we were staying at the Covington, we had originally thought of eating in Saint Paul. But we had the whole evening at our disposal, and we had already tried to eat there once and really wanted to try it, so The Butcher and the Boar it was!

We arrived early due to reading the reservation confirmation email wrong, but that just gave us time to hang out in the lovely outdoor beer garden (I wonder what the space was in the building's previous use — parking?) The beer garden is actually a perfect complement to the restaurant, a little rustic and casual, and very spacious. With reservations so hard to get for the main space, it's a nice alternative. Different menu though (some yummy looking hand cut potato chips served in a bag), and a MUCH more reduced cocktail menu.

Plus, on the way through, you get to walk over the penny floor. Hard to beat that.

We were seated right on time, and then came the dilemma of what to order. Much of the menu was "meats for 2," which was obviously not going to fly. The people next to us had a "double pork chop," which was literally the size of a large piece of cake, gleaming with blueberries. Patrick can't wait to try it.

I had the lobster grilled cheese sandwich, which was a little less flavorful than expected, but still, lobster! Plus Fulton-battered fries. Patrick had 2 things from the charcuterie, a sausage and some ham. He reports both were incredible.

As I mentioned earlier, the outdoor cocktail menu was abbreviated, but Patrick could not have been happier with his mint julep or his old-fashioned, especially the former which came in a lovely engraved cup. My vodka lemonade was fine, but I would have preferred one of the other cocktails not available outside. Maybe next time order in the bar and carry it out?

In the end, I think the Butcher and the Boar is like seeing a really good movie a few weeks after it opens. Had you just gone on our own, you would have loved it. But by the time you get there, all you've heard is the hype and the talk and the build-up — and although it's great, it's not All That.

(Patrick, the carnivore, mentions that he thought it was "really good," so take my writing with a grain of salt. After all, it is named The Butcher and the Boar.)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Covington Inn

Last week, we went out to celebrate our sixth anniversary. Our actual anniversary is not until this Friday, but we had a teacher from Beatrix's school who was willing to have a sleepover with her, so for the first time since B was born, we had a night away from her.

Back when I was just pregnant, I had won a Metro Magazine contest for an essay about places to go in the Twin Cities, and had selected the Covington as the most romantic B&B. The owner was so pleased she gave us a gift certificate to spend the night there, and we could finally redeem it!

The night was every bit as special as we had hoped. The inn (on a old tug boat) is incredibly lovely. Each room has its own individual charm, and the deck (above) is absolutely gorgeous. If you have never seen the view of Saint Paul from down by the river, make an effort to seek it out. It's wonderfully unusual and gives you a whole new perspective on the city.

We had dinner (more on that in a different post later), and then enjoyed wine and dessert while looking out at the city. Throughout the night, avery time I woke up, I could look out the window just next to the bed at that magic view. The next morning, the owner made us a delicious breakfast, and then we reluctantly returned to real life.

We're not the only ones who have the kind of lives where it is hard to get away. If you are one of my Twin Cities friends reading this (or if you are coming in for a visit), consider escaping here for one night (bonus points if you can do what we did, escape in the middle of the week and go into work a little late the next day). It's as close to magic as you can come.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Preschool Pics




I met my friend Mandy not quite a year ago, when she took my profile picture at a blogging conference. I know a lot of wonderful photographers who create exceptional art, but I had never met anyone who captured photographic portraits the way she does.

This year she did the preschool portraits for Beatrix's school. See what I mean?

Do yourself a favor and get over to her site and book her. You won't be sorry.