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My husband and I still enjoy “date night.” Admittedly date night has evolved a bit after 25 years of wedded bliss. Now instead of dinner and a movie, a night out typically involves a trip to Menards. Seriously… what part of a large home improvement center does not scream “I love you?” Romance surely lives on in the aisles of paint supplies and power tools. In fact, I am convinced that without Menards, there would be no “date night.” We would instead be relegated to evenings at home eating frozen pizza and watching “Impractical Jokers” with the dogs. (I realize that some of you may PREFER an evening watching four lifelong friends embarrass one another at the expense of innocent onlookers. Or you believe that cardboard carbs deserve the distinction of its own food group. I, however, enjoy the experience of shopping somewhere I can purchase both drywall AND bacon…

I believe chestnuts are underrated. For example, if you were on Family Feud and asked to name a popular nut, what would you say? Peanut? Almonds? Maybe even a cashew? When the top answers are on the board, I doubt that Steve Harvey will award anyone money for answering “chestnut.” Somehow, the chestnut lacks the popularity of a nut wearing a monocle, and has yet to cross over to the candy bar market. Until now, the chestnut has been relegated to a solo line in an old Nat King Cole Christmas carol. However my husband believes that chestnuts are the new cash crop of Iowa. (I suggested hemp will be an even greater money maker.) Still we recently found ourselves at the Iowa Arborteum attending an eight-hour chestnut growers workshop. (The question is not so much WHY we were here. Remember CASH CROP? But rather HOW could such a workshop…

Remember the song “Grandma got run over by a reindeer?” It’s a holiday anthem dedicated to the violent demise of a beloved relative by the crushing of caribou hooves. Despite the song’s catchy beat (and homicidal message)…I have to confess that I’ve never been clear as to the moral of the story. It could be any one of the following: • Don’t let grandma drink eggnog and walk home unsupervised. • Beware of Santa. He is a vicious bloodthirsty criminal, and not to be trusted under any circumstances. • If someone passes away during the holidays, it is best to prethink the ethics of the gift policy as the dilemma to keep or return unwanted trinkets can be overwhelming. OR… • It’s time to get new relatives when one’s grievance period includes football and drinking beer with Cousin Mel rather than planning a lovely memorial service. It was GRANDMA, for…

I am a Child of the 80s. Unlike the 60’s Child, my youth was devoid of LSD and “special brownies.” (Unless you count Grandma’s…and I’m pretty sure all of her ingredients were legal.) I also missed out on the disco craze and mood rings of the 70s. Although I view this as a positive, believing polyester leisure suits violate any sense of propriety and dignity one might possess. Instead I was raised in the era of the Rubik’s Cube (I had to peel the stickers off in order to solve it!), Michael Jackson (pre-skin bleaching and nose job), and Atari, which I maintain is one of the greatest gaming systems ever created. Before Fortnight, there was Pong…and Pac Man and Donkey Kong…and my personal favorite Burger Time. I challenge you to name anything more rewarding than building a perfect digital hamburger without being crushed by a giant bun. However the…

I was raised on a rural Iowa farm. This meant that my childhood revolved around food. (It also revolved around walking beans, Atari, and the local Pizza Hut jukebox.) Growing up, we didn’t have this wimpy “breakfast, lunch, dinner” stuff we see nowadays. Instead we ate FIVE meals a day plus a nighttime snack. This equated to breakfast, lunch, dinner, lunch, supper, and a big bowl of ice cream before bed. For you city slickers (or Weight Watcher members), this concept may exceed your comprehension and alloted caloric points . But to break it down… Breakfast was a hot meal consisting of eggs and some sort of fatty meat. Then came a mid-morning lunch of cold meat sandwiches, homemade cookies and coffee. At noon, dinner was a hot meal with meat, potatoes, and bread & butter sandwiches. Repeat with another mid-afternoon lunch of cold meat sandwiches, homemade cookies and coffee.…

My husband and I recently celebrated our 24th wedding anniversary. 24 years…That is one year away from a quarter century. I repeat…a quarter CENTURY! (Translation: We are old.) To celebrate, I’d like to say that my husband purchased me one of the “traditional” anniversary gifts. You know…40 years is ruby. 50 is gold. 60 is diamonds. (Seriously? Is it necessary to wait 60 years to get diamonds?) But guess what 24 years is…Musical instruments. Yep. I did not think there was anything less romantic than the traditional first year anniversary gift of paper. At least paper is practical! But musical instruments? Hey honey, I wanted to let you know I was thinking of you so I got you this tuba. Or a clarinet. Because nothing says love more than something from woodwinds family.(Quick side note…I did find another wedding registry that recommends “stone” gifts to commemorate one’s 24th anniversary. The…

Quick…What do these three things have in common? The Iowa Hawkeyes, Country Music, and San Francisco. If you replied that you despise all three, that is the wrong answer. (Although I may give you partial credit for disliking San Francisco. Seriously… Crooked streets, the “summer of love, ” and just existing in a state that now bans straws. STRAWS! How could the Iowa Roadie ever drink her beloved dirty girl scout drinks without a straw?) Anyway there are actually two correct answers to the above quiz. One is former University of Iowa Hawkeye quarterback CJ Beathard, who now serves as the backup quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers. The other right answer is his brother Tucker Beathard, a singer/songwriter who scored a #2 country hit with his song “Rock On” a couple of years ago. Let me explain something… If the Iowa Roadie had a top ten list of favorite…

There is a practice known as “bar hopping” that refers to visiting more than one bar in a single evening. This nomadic lifestyle is most common in college students on spring break. As I am seasoned well beyond the ramen noodle & wet t-shirt years, I prescribe to the more sedentary “bar plopping,” which is the nightlife equivalent to nesting. I find a place I like, plop myself down and remain there all night. I honestly do not know how loyal patronage can be a bad thing. But evidently it labels me as “boring” and “lame.” SO on a recent trip to Cedar Rapids, I decided to forego my stationary habits and just go with the flow. (My anxiety level went up just writing that statement.) Now if you recall, a previous Iowa Roadie blog described an afternoon luau at “Just Coz Tavern” in Cedar Rapids. Remember…potluck by the pool…

Last week, the Iowa Roadie took a little fishing trip up north to Leech Lake in Walker, Minnesota. (Although to be considered a fishing trip, one actually has to catch fish.) According to the last census poll, Walker boasts a population of 941 people. That is its WINTER population. In the summer, the population multiplies like an amoeba, and the town swarms with both tourists and mayflies. (In all honesty, if I lived in Walker, I might prefer the mayflies! My limited experience with the tourists is that they meander. Meander means “to walk VERY VERY slowly and take up the entire sidewalk.”) So rather than run down the slow amoebas (anyone know the plural for amoeba?), my husband and I decided to have a drink in Cafe Zona Rosa where happy hour was just beginning. This was a terrific find, because all drinks are ½ off. So our chips,…

My husband wants to be a cowboy. Seriously. In real life, he is a computer geek. But secretly he longs to ride the open range unencumbered by the pressures of modern life (mainly his wife who keeps insisting he visit new little dives). So when the Iowa Roadie spotted a new bar and grill by the name of “Stampedes” in downtown Mason City, it seemed to be a win-win situation. Per Iowa Roadie rule #2, we moseyed up to the bar and sat down. (Recall that the bar typically has the best service and allows you the most opportunity to visit with other patrons.) My husband ordered a beer, and I embarrassed him by ordering a “dirty girl scout.” Now I confess, it is a tad awkward to order a beverage which seems to defile such an upstanding group of young ladies. But this drink tastes like a thin mint.…

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