Tag: Moving (Page 1 of 2)

Saying Goodbye To St. Louis

Is it ironic that we’re moving from St. Louis, Missouri, a city where you can find St. Paul sandwiches everywhere, to St. Paul, Minnesota where there are none?

Our movers arrived, the sellers just accepted our counter-offer, we’re embarking on a last-minute trip to California next week, and are trying to say goodbye to St. Louis. It’s a lot of changes. I suppose change is all we’ve known.

No matter what states to which we’ve moved, we’ve met good people. Making friends as an adult can be challenging, but you will find the people who let you be yourself. It might take some time, but they’re there. I promise. This is how we spent our last weeks in St. Louis:

I finished my two-weeks notice and spent time with my friends. 

We spent our meal in St. Louis at Mai Lee and enjoyed our favorite dish

I bought a box of kolaches. St. Louis Kolache makes my favorite. We always gravitate towards the savory flavors. The soft bun is slightly sweet and the fillings are plentiful and . My favorite flavor is biscuits and gravy, but we’re also fond of the Pappy’s BBQ beef (or pork),


I tried a bunch of dishes at Reed’s and drank a frothy cocktail shaken with an egg white.


I got my Nduja fix at Salume BedduWhen you order Nduja from Salmue Beddu’s lunch menu, they serve it warm along with toasted bread and cheese. I also ordered a veggie sandwich, which may sound strange considering that I was at a salumeria, but it was so good I don’t care. Being the benevolent wife that I am, I saved Jake half of my lunch.


To my delight, he surrendered his half of the Nduja. “It’s too spicy,” he commented. I made fun of him and then ate it for breakfast.

I ate a really good steak at Citizen Kane’s steakhouse. This restaurant set inside a house has been serving steaks since 1993. Someone gave us a gift certificate, so we made sure to visit before our move.


In terms of flavor, tenderness and value, this ribeye’s now my second favorite in addition to Northwest Steakhouse in Mason City, IA. We’ll also miss the salads drizzled with that sweet, St. Louis-style Italian dressing.


Who’s gonna sprinkle Provel on my salads when we move back to Minneapolis-St. Paul? Citizen Kane’s Mayfair dressing tastes like a cross between blue cheese and caesar. This is no overpriced a la cart steakhouse. Steaks come with a bread basket, side salad or soup, and your choice of a side. The crispy potatoes are one of the best things we’ve eaten for a while.

We’re going to miss St. Louis and the new friends that we’ve made here. Grateful for the opportunity to live here and forever a cheerleader for the community.

Next week I’m going to take a break from blogging as we settle into our interim home and travel to California. We haven’t ventured outside of the Midwest since we got engaged so we’re thrilled to sneak away between moves.

San Francisco -> Napa -> Tahoe -> Avenue of the Giants -> Portland -> Home.

Follow along on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook for updates.

A Long Minnesotan Goodbye: The Viking, The Landing & The Lady #FarewellTour2015

My farewell tour to North Iowa was like a Minnesota goodbye. It was long and drawn-out in the best possible way.

Beth and I said many of our farewells together. As we unpack in St. Louis, she packs for North Carolina. Here are some highlights from the final leg(s) of our Farewell Tour:

I visited Amy Hild’s gravesite with several North Bloggers. After we paid our respects, we convened at The Viking Drive-Inn where she used to speak fondly about working many summers ago. It’s a tiny restaurant that serves summer treats like soft serve ice cream, corn dogs, and burgers. If you weren’t specifically looking for The Viking, you might not know it’s there, except for the people milling around outside with ice cream cones. There didn’t appear to be a sign. Customers can sit at several outdoor tables a small or find a stool at the small dine-in counter.


Small ice cream cones really aren’t that small and large cones are behemoth. The Viking’s chocolate ice cream hit the spot, but I did notice many people enjoying their most popular flavor, black raspberry. I can see why Amy enjoyed working at the Viking so much.

  • River City Sculptures On Parade

I’ve had my eye on Humpty Dumpty since the new River City Sculptures came to town in May.


His real name is Mr. Eggwards and he’s one of 40 sculptures sprinkled throughout downtown Mason City. River City Sculptures on Parade partners with SculptureOne, a nonprofit that also brings a similar public art program to Sioux Falls, SD, Mankato, MN and Eau Claire, WI. Artists allow the cities to borrow the sculptures for one year. In September, residents can vote for the statue they want the city to keep, while they’re all available for purchase. The entire River City Sculpture walk is 1.6 miles long.


I crashed Beth & Donna’s sculpture walk long enough to meet Mr. Eggwards. It appears that he has his eye on Beth.


I’m not sure if you are supposed to ride this bird. Beth and Donna made me do it.


  • Enjoying a meal with house vinaigrette, red sauce & calamari at Pasta Bella.

Pasta Bella opened in Mason City about one year ago and it’s the only Italian restaurant in town. Fortunately, we really enjoy their food. I am especially fond of their intriguing house vinaigrette, which is thicker than most and red-hued, and like their well-balanced red sauce. It’s not too sweet and not too tangy. Pasta Bella serves generous portions of their fried calamari (rings only) with a lot of lemon. On our last visit, the calamari was fried perfectly and tasted fresh. The 1910 Grille at the Frank Lloyd Wright hotel serves delicious fried calamari (both rings and tentacles), albiet the portion is a little smaller. 

Pasta bella farewell Collage

A basket of warm garlic knots come with each meal and staff pack carefully them in to-go orders. In fact, the last to-go meal we ordered here was packed immaculately so that nothing dribbled or tipped. The pizza here is delicious, too.

Strangely enough, there aren’t that many lakeside restaurants located along Clear Lake, Iowa. I’ll always remember The Landing because it’s where I tried my first Moscow Mule. This cocktail is typically made with ginger beer, vodka, and lime juice and served in a copper mug.


Moscow Mules aren’t Iowa specific, but they seem to be more popular in North Iowa than any other place we’ve lived. The Landing also offers a concise menu and dishes are served in big metal baskets lined with newspaper. The sweet potato fries are especially delicious and worth the swap.


If it’s sunny, don’t forget to bring a hat or sunglasses. The sun shines bright onto the patio. Live bands often play on the patio in the evenings and it’s really a relaxing location to watch the sun set.

Lady of the Lake
Our final farewell tour event embarked on a cruise on The Lady of the Lake, a paddle wheeler boat that circles Clear Lake. Many of our friends who have lived in the Mason City-Clear Lake area have ridden the Lady of the Lake many times. People often rent the boat for weddings or work functions while public cruises are offered daily.


You can only pay for admission and snacks/drinks with cash or checks. Don’t forget to bring your own water bottle on board if it’s a warm evening, otherwise water costs $1.


This evening was perfect for a cruise. We enjoyed the clear skies and slight breeze.



  • Ritz Onion Rings at the Clear Lake Farmers Market. 

The Farewell stop I made before driving to St. Louis was at the Clear Lake Farmers Market on Saturday morning. I heard about the famous Ritz Onion ring food truck and craved a taste. The Ritz was a famous Clear Lake supper club that opened in the 20’s and operated until a fire destroyed it in 1999. Their onion rings were beloved and I’ve heard the version from this food truck taste the same.


So hot coffee and onion rings might not be the best combination at 9 a.m., but it was totally worth it for a taste of Clear Lake history. One portion of onion rings ($7) is huge. The batter is shiny like lacquer and very crisp and the onion is tender instead of sliding out of the shell. If onion rings is not your thing first thing in the morning, you can also order donuts and breakfast sandwiches from the food truck.

Now that our farewell is over, it’s time to get acquainted with my new home of St. Louis, MO. Thanks you for joining me on this crazy Midwestern journey! More to come after I unpack a few more boxes. 

Pack A Roll Of Toilet Paper: 10 Pieces Of My Best Moving Advice

We’ve moved with Jake’s company to Fargo, North Dakota, Mason City, Iowa and St. Louis, Missouri all within our 20’s, however we’ve got nothing on Beth. Last year, Beth’s husband received a new job opportunity and her house sold about the same time we learned about our move, and so we’ve been saying goodbye to North Iowa together. She’s been like my corporate move mentor since she understands what it’s like to move for her husband’s job and start over again in new communities. While I may be more stressed about this move since we have a dog, she’s moved with pets and kids, often living apart from her husband for long lengths of time. Her number one suggestion for moving is not to stress. I’m still working on this.

Our movers have come and gone and the relocation company postponed our move-in date by a couple of days. Now that all of our belongings are on their way to St. Louis, Trayse and I are enjoying our last weekend in North Iowa and taking this moment to reflect on the past two years. Here’s my best advice for your next move.

1. Eat as many local specialties as possible.

food tradition Collage

Each community has unique food traditions. Find one, try as many versions as possible, and learn how to make it at home. I’ve only lived in Minnesota, North Dakota and Iowa, but am intrigued by the different food traditions I learned about in each state (or even parts of each state_. In Minnesota, we grew up on wild rice and chicken soup while my North Dakotan friends crave knoephla. Ranch dressing runs rampant in North Iowa, as do Greek-style steaks and cheese balls. We’re excited to learn about St. Louis food traditions.

2. Don’t save experiences for later. Once, when I lived in North Dakota, I did something really stupid. I saved a road trip or later, convincing myself that I’d be back. I had read Del’s Journey‘s intriguing blog post describing why he considers Fort Sisseton State Park in South Dakota one of his top ten favorite state parks in the nation. The post inspired me to drive solo to Sica Hollow State Park (which is known for being beautifully spooky) and Fort Sisseton.

I experienced a mishap along the way when I locked myself out of my car ordering a cheeseburger from a drive-in. After the AAA guy unlocked my car, hours had passed and I lost my nerve. I drove straight to Sisseton, instead of stopping in Sica Hollow. When I arrived in Sisseton and noticed the state park was another 30 miles away, I decided to turn around and go home, telling myself that it was no big deal since I’d be back. Two weeks later, we found out we were getting transferred to Iowa and “later” has become much later.  If there’s a place you want to visit, just go visit it, even if it’s in your own backyard. If you move often for work, there might not be a later or next time.

3. Ask for referrals for the important things. Growing up in the Twin Cities, I was all set up with my car mechanic, medical professionals, insurance agent, etc. If something happened and we didn’t know where to turn, we simply asked mom and dad. Now, we don’t have that luxury. The most efficient and reliable way to find new health care professionals and services is to ask a local. People love to share their favorite things and asking for referrals from people who are simply fellow consumers with no vested interest in that company has rarely led me astray.

4. Don’t save your paper shredding for later. Most especially, if you own a small shredder like us. I had saved a year’s worth of documents to be shredded. Two grocery bags of paper took three days and three full garbage bags. Sure, credit card offers and all that life insurance crap your insurance agent sends is obnoxious, but it’s far less obnoxious than amassing a year’s worth that you realize to destroy three days before the movers arrive. A little shredding each day saves you a lot of shredding at crunch time.

5. Clean out your damn condiments! Isn’t it unreal how many condiments one can stockpile in their fridge? Condiments are unlike any other type of food and seem to multiply like gremlins. Similar to that paper that needs to be shredded, go through your fridge once in a while and clean out your old condiments.

6. If you are thinking of purchasing a home that needs updates, gather quotes and then double them. We learned a lot of life lessons all at once when we purchased our first home in Mason City. Always be prepared to spend more money on house updates and repairs than you predict.

7. Acquire a dependable air mattress.

Trayse air bed

When you move with a company, you never know when your belongings are going to arrive at your new home. If your belongings fill less than an entire truck, you may have to wait for the truck to make another stop. An air mattress allows you to sleep in your empty old house or your empty new house without a problem. My friend Beth generously gave me hers and we’ve used it countless times.

8. Set aside items you’ll want to access easily and pack them in your vehicle. After two moves not doing this, I totally made an effort to do this before the movers arrived. I packed a suitcase full of clothing to last one week, a backpack of toiletries including two rolls of toilet paper, and set aside my files of important documents, remote controls, dog stuff, and bedding. If there’s perishable food you want to pack, bring a cooler and keep at least a plate, spoon, fork, and cup handy for meals. Moving companies usually won’t pack cleaning supplies, anyway. I’d also recommend you pack your car with basic cleaning supplies, a small vacuum, and broom so you can touch up your old house and clean your new home enough to feel comfortable until the movers arrive.

9. Ask for help and perform cost/benefit analysis.
When things feel overwhelming, ask for help. This move felt especially stressful because we didn’t have any time to prepare for it! Jake was out-of-town a lot and I was in the midst of the summer auction college session. There were some tasks that I powered through, such as shredding bags of documents, but decided to budget for assistance touching up the house before our realtor officially listed it online. I asked Beth for help when my car was in the shop and our realtor helped me fill out the complicated relocation paperwork.

10. “Find the weird people who do strange things.”
My good friend Chelsea gave me this advice when I was a new Mason City resident lamenting about how I hadn’t clicked with many friends yet.

mug cat

Totally not weird.

Obviously I don’t mean that my North Iowan blogger friends as “weird,” and even if I did, I mean it in the best possible way;)

Don’t give up finding those friends with whom you can be imperfectly yourself. They’re out there. I promise! As my first local blogger friend Sara always recommends, consider taking online relationships offline. I’ve met many good friends of all ages on Facebook, Twitter and even Instagram through our common interests of exploring the local dining scene, traveling, blogging, and writing. In my experience, online friendships always translate into real life friendships. Reach out to others with common interests and connect with local online communities. They often coordinate get togethers.

Whether you live in a small town or large metropolitan area, much of life is what you make of it. There are always kind people in this world and new experiences to pursue. Life will always throw variables at us that we can’t control, but I proceed with the belief that I continue to write new chapters of my story with each choice and day that passes. I’m grateful for everyone who helped me find magic in North Iowa. 


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