Sunday, November 18, 2012

NewBo City Market Rocks!

We checked out a dynamic new shopping venue in Cedar Rapids this past weekend and it is fresh, fun, creative - all things wonderful. It's only been open a few weeks but judging from the crowds it's a raving success.

Smoothie samples and friendly staff at Get Fresh!

Analise loved the smoothie and juice samples at Get Fresh - Bo. She even tried the It's Not Easy Being Green and said it was wonderful! They use fresh, healthy, good-for-you ingredients. Mmmmm...good! Her favorite was Strawberry Fields Forever. How fun are the names? Love it!

Most of the booths had samples. The lines were long, the place was packed, but it is worth it. P.H.A.T. Daddy's at the Market has hot, hot, HOT barbecue sauces (a few mild ones, too). We scored a bottle of their red pepper jelly (tasty poured over cream cheese as a dip) and a bottle of mild BBQ sauce. Can't beat P.H.A.T. Daddy's!

Of course, we couldn't leave without buying a sweet cupcake from That One Cupcake Place. Make that SIX cupcakes. Pretty and delish!

I absolutely love the concept of NewBo City Market. Bringing together local companies, vendors, craftspeople in a cooperative spirit to sell fresh food and products in an open market style. It's housed large building in an area of Cedar Rapids (New Bohemia district) that has struggled since the flood of 2008. NewBo Market is one of many projects to revitalize the neighborhood. The local flair and entrepreneurial spirit is encouraging and is a win-win for the community, consumers and businesses.

You can get breakfast, lunch, dinner from the many food vendors. There are flavors from all over the world: La Reyna, Caribbean Kitchen, Greyhound Deli, Iowa Soul Food Company, JoJo's Asian Foods, Russian Delights, Zaytoon Mediterranean Grill, Big Boy Meats. If you want to shop for home a dinner party you can pick up pasta and sauce from Pappardelle's Pasta, coffee from Roasters, fresh produce from Morgan Creek, cheese from NewBo Cheese Co., bread/rolls from Betty and Bobo's Better Breads and after-dinner desserts from Christopher Ryan Confections.

NewBo City Market is a fun place to gather, shop, each and chat.

Fresh flowers? Bark and Bloom. Snacks? CR Popcorn Shop. Unique, handcrafted jewelry, gift and more. Seriously - you can't go wrong. It's a sensory experience shopping at NewBo. Check it out! You won't be disappointed. xo - Em

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Golden Girl

Our Golden Retriever, Miss Zoey, after a day at the lake! It was her first time and I think the look on her face says it all!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Move In Day at UNI

Another school year is upon us and we've been busy at our little house in Joetown. T just started his second year at UNI. He went to Cedar Falls a week early for marching band (go Panthers!) and of course the one day we move him it on this summer of drought it was pouring, POURING rain. He has a new (used) loft that he bought from a former UNI student - it's a double loft and T doesn't live on the first floor anymore. I'm sure it was quite a sight watching us maneuver 14' long boards up FIVE flights of stairs. Luckily we were able to take the rest of his things up in the elevator.

Miss A was a good big sister and climbed up on the loft and made her baby brother's bed for him. Awww... We left a couple of hours later than we'd planned and shared pizza in his dorm when we were done moving and unpacking.

So he's gone and of course there were a few things he forgot. His roommate, and classmate from Mid-Prairie, was coming home overnight so I thought it would be nice if I made a few treats for them along with the bag of items he forgot. T requested various cords that I wasn't quite sure if I knew what they were so I'd take pics with my cell phone and text them to him for confirmation. The main thing he wanted was his bike lock. So I packed a bag filled to the hilt with goodies, cords, some clothes, popcorn bowl. He loves, loves, LOVES Biscoff Spread and white chocolate/almond hot chocolate. Mmmmm... good! Bag successfully packed, picked up by his roomie and delivered to T. But, one thing was missing...

I forgot the bike lock! :/

xo - Em

Sunday, May 20, 2012

May You Always Have a Shell in Your Pocket and Sand in Your Shoes

For years, each summer, I see my dear friend Jamie for only a few hours. It's a far cry from the many hours and days we've spent together over the years: from when we met as coworkers at a credit union, and the countless hours together with our kids and trips to Bear Lake, Park City, the park. We became fast friends working side by side at that small credit union. Each of our three kids were close in age and got along well. About 14 years ago, I moved out of state. I go back each summer for a week or two but the time passes quickly and other obligations keep me from spending more than a couple of hours with Jamie.

Last year, she said to me, "You aren't supposed to be stressed on vacation - you should be relaxed. You need to go to the beach with me." Yeah, right! I thought. She reminded me the kids are older - out of high school. It would be relaxing, wonderful, quiet. Just laying on the beach, reading, whatever. It would be OK!

I'm not sure I ever imagined I really would meet her in Florida at her sister's condo. It seemed so far away. I also felt unsure, guilty to go on a vacation without my family, selfish to spend time like that on me, embarrassed to get in a swimsuit (I don't like how I look and need to lose some weight). But in spite of all that and with her persistence I agreed. Really, I just didn't want to talk about it anymore and figured it wouldn't go any further.

I was wrong.

Jamie, being so incredibly giving and generous, booked the flights, arranged the dates, rented the car - basically took care of everything. All I had to do was pack a few things and get to the airport. Feelings of guilt kept me from telling anybody right away. Seriously, I'm not the type of person to go on a vacation without my family! She even thought I would back out.

But I didn't.

So on a cool morning in May, Tim drove me to the airport in Des Moines and I headed south. Jamie and her sister had been there a week already. They were both tan and content. I had one week with them in Florida on the white sand beach of Navarre. It was wonderful. We picked shells from the beach and in the warm water of the Gulf, we laughed, laid out on the beach (with lots of sunscreen, of course), went to neighboring tourist towns (Destin and Pensacola Beach), ate at fun restaurants (Old Bay Steamer, Hemingway's Island Grill, Mellow Mushroom, Sailors' Grill), shopped. It was great not to live by a set schedule. I even tried new things. Jamie loves boiled peanuts. I do not. We bought them from a roadside vendor - I won't eat them again. Her sister brought us crawfish etouffee from Louisiana - that was tasty and I would definitely eat that again.

I discovered that it was refreshing to spend time away from the family - even though I missed them and hope they missed me too. A week-long getaway with good friends and some new ones was just what I needed. If there's a next time, I hope it's a little longer than a week. Our daily routine consisted of sleeping in a little, eating a bite for breakfast, slathering on sunscreen, packing up beach bags and the small cooler with water, ice and snacks. We'd gather beach chairs and an umbrella, nets to scoop shells. It didn't take long to set up in just the perfect spot on the beach. I brought back tons of shells - each unique - for my family and friends back home. The one I dove in for after I spotted through the water is mine though.

I've lived beachside, on the west coast. It's beautiful there, in a different way. Like my mom, the ocean beckons to me. I miss living near a large body of water. It's so powerful yet peaceful. She was a true Southern California beach babe back in the day. Jamie is a beach girl too and I so thankful she encouraged me to go. It was just what I needed.