A native Iowa Citian who returned to raise my family here, I find myself *far* more opinionated when it comes to everything from the restaurants to the city council. Here is my $.02.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Bobs Your Uncle

Bobs Your Uncle
Two locations
2208 N Dodge Street
351-7400

First word that comes to mind: Gluttony

Rating (Out of possible 5): 4.93 (.07 is being deducted because they forgot our dinner salads last order.)

On the East side of Iowa City, the choices for good food delivery are slim pickins. Besides the obvious pizza joints, there is one Chinese place (check back next week for review) that will bring you a meal.

Needless to say, we were ecstatic at the thought of Bobs Your Uncle opening it's East side location. We had made the trek across town many times to enjoy the Chicken, Sausage & Shrimp Creole Pasta. (It's heaven in a bowl.) Plus, hello happy hour! We need a good watering hole. The Hilltop just doesn't cut it.

As far as delivery goes, we were skeptical. How could these dishes be any good delivered to your door? Would they be nearly as good? The answer is a big HELL YEAH.

The other night, on a long journey home with two tired kids, we drove by Bobs and decided to order delivery. (I am a big advocate for signage containing phone numbers so you can easily order on the go.) Information gave me the digits and we called from our cell. Within minutes of arriving home & unpacking kids, we had a nice hot meal waiting for us.

Ever since checking out the new online menu, I had been having a hankering for the Buffalo Chicken Burrito.

Buffalo Chicken Burrito $13.95
Spicy chicken pieces wrapped in a flour tortilla with Sal's twice-baked potatoes, bits of celery and carrots, and buffalo sauce, garnished with a few fried onions. Served with a side salad.

It was so tasty. The flour tortilla tasted like homemade bread and it arrived non-soggy. Amazing for how saucy this little sucker is. We got sides of veggies that were crisp and steamy when we opened up the packaging. While inhaling the food, we discussed how some places "just do it right" with take out or delivery. It's all about the food packaging. These meals are big enough to split between two adults, but delicious enough to polish off and spend the remainder of the evening in a recliner, in a food coma. It hurts so good.

Great beer selection. I recommend a black & tan. (Bass & Guiness.)

The bonus is this is a locally owned establishment. I am a firm believer in supportingg locally owned. Especially when it's a business that does it right. It makes the cost factor easier to swallow. Literally.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Funny Pages

Tonight my two year old little boy came up to me and said "Cooper have nice solid poop Mommy." While trying to keep a straight I am very proud of you potty training face, I hear my husband laughing so hard he can't breathe in the other room.

Last night he walked around with a favorite toy while hiccuping. I asked him "What do you have?" referring to his toy. He replied, "The hiccups!"

Day before yesterday he accompanied me to the bathroom to change his little sisters pants while having lunch at a restaurant. While I was changing her, she tooted. I said, "Oops, baby tooted." Cooper knows that toot means fart. As we walked back across the lunch crowd to our table, Cooper repeated over and over in his very loud inside voice "OOPS! Mommy farted!"

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Sandwiches

I love sandwiches.

There is something about them that fills the void. Hot or cold. So why does it seem like a good, I mean really good, (cure a hangover type good) sandwich is so hard to find in Iowa City? If I had more time, experience in the food industry and some money, I would open a little sandwich shop. It would be called Tin Whistle. I would have tee shirts that read "I Tin Whistle."

Let me get started on my dissection of the sandwich shops I have frequented in the area.

Subway
Various locations

First word that comes to mind: Bleh. Another one: WHY? Yet another: Inedible.

Rating (Out of possible 5): -34

Bread that is leathery like a dog's raw hide (and about as flavorful) are the basis and bulk of Subway's sangys. Let's talk about that damn triangle wedge out of the top. It doesn't constitute easy eating if you ask me. The meat is almost clear, the tomatoes are clear and the cheese is all processed. I am convinced that if they didn't pay such big bucks on movie placement marketing, they would be out of business. If I had to choose a favorite menu item, it would be the gritty pre packaged chocolate chip cookies.


Milios (Formerly known as Big Mikes)
Various locations

First word that comes to mind: Almost.

Rating (Out of possible 5): 4 1/2 (The 1/2 is for speedy delivery.)

The bread makes these sandwiches. The meats are good and the cheeses are not processed, ding ding ding! For some reason, the insides always slide out of my sandwich and I find myself gnawing on the side of it like a rabid squirrel. The #4 sans sprouts is my favorite.

Mike vs. Jimmy
I am going to conserve my energy and tell you that Jimmy Johns is the exact same. Milio's is owned by Mike Liautaud (leo-toe) and JJ's is owned by Jimmy John Liautaud. Jimmy John's has something Mike's does not...The Gargantuan. The holy mother load. A heart attack on bread. It's every meat, cheese and every topping they have piled on and smooched closed.


Quiznos
Various locations
Save your breathe and don't go to Court/Scott Blvd location

First word that comes to mind: So-so.

Rating (Out of possible 5): 2

The food is decent but at this particular location, they can't seem to get it right. This might be due to the fact that every time I have gone in there, there are high school boys working. They are usually in the seating area eating and make me wait a good two minutes before coming up, while looking horridly annoyed, to take my order. Kidz meals are supposed to come with "Kidz sub, Kidz drink, Kidz snack & a surprise!" We got the sub. Nice going. They stuck me with a thirsty, toy & cookie deprived two year old. That was a fun car ride home.


Blimpies
Various locations
(I prefer 2221 Rochester Avenue)

First word that comes to mind: Delish.

Rating (Out of possible 5): 4

I am a Blimpie fan. Great bread. Fresh sliced meat. This particular location has an exceptional staff who always offer you the best deal with a smile. Some people argue that they slice their meat with the same blade as the cheese. If you are a strict vegetarian, I see your point. If not, shut the hell up and eat.


Hungry Hobo
517 South Riverside
Iowa City, IA 52246
Also, in Coralville on 1st Avenue.

First word that comes to mind: Elementary.

Rating (Out of possible 5): 3

Good sandwiches. Hard to screw up. They are the most basic sandwiches sans all the bells and whistles. We are talking meat, cheese, lettuce, mayo, and bun. Of course there are options but they aren't too fancy. Refreshing. They don't hide the flavor of the meat under obnoxious sauces like some other AH HEM sangy shops. Also, good baked potatoes! Try the chili cheese...It might kill you but it would be a sweet way to go.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Mom Would Be Proud

In the words of my older (sometimes wiser) sister, I am becoming more like my mom everyday.

I did three things on Friday that I normally never do.

1.) I shopped at WalMart. WalMart is the devil. I don't believe in their corporate policies, despise their destruction of small town America and loathe the way they treat their employees. This being said, I am fiercely trying to stick to a budget. Okay, I saved A LOT of money. I even sort of got my jollies out of the whole saving money thing. Also, I had a cranky baby in tow, needed to go to the grocery store and Target. Super Target was out due to timing issues. (Can I just tell you that I got a three piece overalls outfit for my baby girl for $5? Yup. $5. And it's quite cute.)

2.) I cleaned with bleach. Bleach and I don't work well together. Must be because my mom used to bleach our whites. I never liked the way my clothes felt after being soaked in pure chemical solution. Especially underwear, the elastic would give out and that is never fun. Usually I clean with Meyers Lemon Verbena countertops spray. It's natural and doesn't kill our earth. Plus it smells damn good. I also have an affection for Melaleuca's EcoSense products although I am no longer a member. A nasty case of the flu bug and a sink that wouldn't scrub clean prompted me to pull out the bottle of bleach that I had stashed in case of an emergency. The smell was a bit much but my tubs, sinks, etc. have never sparkled so bright! My hands still stink but I can live with that. It brings me great joy to have a sparkling clean kitchen sink. I even keep walking into my kitchen just to see it again and again. Odd but true.

3.) I threw away 5 items that should have been recycled. You must see my recycling pile to understand why I couldn't bring myself to heap anything else on top of it. Oddly enough, when I told my brother I had done something "Crazy!" he said "What like throw away a plastic bottle?" Jesus, am I that predictable?

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Guilt

guilt (glt) noun
The fact of being responsible for the commission of an offense.

That should read: What a mother feels every moment of every minute of every day.

I am working on this one.

I feel guilty when I take a shower. Even though my 12 week old is perched blissfully unaware of my absence 10 feet from me in a swing, I take the baby monitor into the bathroom with me just in case she were to moan, fart or attempt to open a checking account while I am washing up. The sad thing...This is my second child.

As parents' we live in constant fear of screwing up our children.

Uh oh, the baby is falling asleep on my shoulder, quick wake her up and then lay her down in her crib so that she can learn to fall asleep on her own. She cries. Don't put the nuk in her mouth, she will want it until she goes to kindergarten and have dental problems her entire life. Was that a fart I heard? The early rumblings of an oncoming poop? Should I stand here and listen closely to her tummy because she *might* shat in her diaper and how horrible of a mother would I be to let my kid nap in a dirty diaper?

I know I am not the only mom getting lost in the obsession that every detail of my parenting shapes the human being that will one day choose what nursing home I will be placed in. We all do it.

Why do we beat ourselves up over the small stuff? I hear myself telling friends to not worry yet I expect the police to come knock on my door if they find out I put my baby girl on her tummy to nap. We feel the need to constantly defend our actions. (She was on the couch and I was right next to her watching her breathing patterns the entire time.) The only logical explanation I can come up with is modem society has unrealistic expectations of mothers. Too many theories, advice columns and books to define what "the right way to do things" is. What's right for you baby, might not be right for mine. Kappesh?

In the end, it's not about the small stuff.

When my kids grow up, I know they won't remember the mistakes we made. (Unless they read my blog.) They are loved beyond explanation. That alone is a great way to start.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Those Moms...

For some women, giving birth to a child (or adopting) reverts them back to their catty high school attitudes, complete with criteria to associate the "cools" from the "not cools." The "haves" from the "have nots."

Re-read that first sentence. It's the truth. They don't teach you this stuff in those pre-baby classes. They should. They should also teach you self defense. Wax on. Wax off.

Baby carriers, child development, strollers, car seats, accessories, cameras, diapers, baby clothes, shoes, music classes, pre schools, feeding choices, weight, husbands, work status and pretty much every other detail of our lives, are picked apart by women who feel it's their duty to tell you what you are doing wrong. In the most condescending way possible.

Just today I had a run in with one of these mothers. I knew what was coming as I caught her eyes sizing me up as I loaded my daughter into a baby carrier, while balancing my little boy's tippy cup, a diaper bag and a half chewed piece of banana bread in the other hand. She started at my face, smiled and then as she turned her head...Slowly panned down my body taking in every detail. You know the look. The "I'm pretending not to check you out while I turn this way" trick.

Two minutes and 17 seconds later she walked up behind me and the pecking began.

The baby was loaded so I guess I was fair game. "What brand of carrier is that?" My response was something to the effect of "The ultimate baby wrap, something my sister got second hand and shipped up to me from Texas." Horror overtook her face. Was it the fact that it wasn't a trendy brand or the fact it was second hand? I couldn't tell. I didn't give a $hit. I was still balancing the tippy, banana bread and now my two year old was now screaming.

The questions continued, first about my car seat. Was it the new model? Apparently the new model holds up to 30 lbs. Whoopdeedo. Where did I get it? Was it expensive? She might as well asked to see my bank statement.

Nice camera, does it take good pictures? Could she hold it? It's a camera, not a puppy.

I continued to be peppered with questions and unsolicited information about her gear (including her new baby Bjorn Active carrier that is so much better for her lower back pain) until I simply walked away.

According to this mom, I should be en route to get myself one of these carriers straight away. In reality, I was on my way to the car to drive far far from this psycho as fast as I could.

Thank God I have good friends who don't judge me for what I may or may not do with my body fluids, wipe my kids' asses with and buy first, second or third hand.

Wax on. Wax off.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Athena Brown


On a cold November night in 1999, a little Bassett hound came into our lives. We would like to think we rescued her from a stinky life on a pig farm outside Rice Lake, WI. She was 7 weeks old and cuter than any animal should ever be allowed to be. Matt gave her the name Athena.

For the next year she was "little sister" to our dog Poet. Then she was an only child. Five years passed of Saturday's at the dog park, afternoons at the dog bakery, dog day care during the week and plenty of tummy rubs in between. We spent lazy nights on the couch with Athena snuggled in the crook of our knees. We took hikes just long enough to wear her out, sometimes with our misjudgment ending in us carrying her the last leg of the trip. Life was full of Greenies and sunny spots.

Enter human child #1. Athena adjusted well with changes and almost two years passed. They were best of friends. Snuggling in bed in the mornings and chasing butterflies together in the summer. Enter human child #2. Uh-oh.

Attempts to help Athena acclimate to our new family situation fell short. We spent a few months worth of car payments at the vet only to find out that our little diva didn't like us. She loved us, fiercely, but she didn't like us any more. We had done an about face on routines. Ignored her pleas for attention to deal with her human counterparts. Plain and simple; we were last week's stale poo.

We knew it and difficult as it was, we knew we couldn't change it. Anyone who has ever spent more than 6 years raising an animal, knows what a painful decision it was to decide to find a new family for Athena to adopt as her own. We decided out of state would be best so we wouldn't be tempted to steal her back in a weak moment. Putting out an APB with some dog loving friends did the trick. Within hours we had four families lined up. After a brutally honest email, we had one. They were our favorite from the beginning. A mom, dad, 16 year old daughter, one dog named Codi, one fat cat named Max, a fenced in back yard and lots of sunny spots. After 18 emails back and forth it was decided, Athena Brown was becoming Athena Brown-Voight of Long Lake, MN.

A week later, we packed the car and her life and headed to MN. We broke ourselves in slowly to the thought of letting her go. We visited old friends and drank too much wine for three days before meeting her new family.

The Voights exceeded our expectations. Gentle spirits, a wonderful home and lots of love in their hearts to give Athena the life she deserves. We spent a couple hours answering their questions and convincing ourselves we had made the right decision. We drove away with broken hearts and only memories of how her scruff feels when you massage it with your hands. The sound of her arooooing along to a song. The smell of her fur on a rainy day. We cried. We cried when we got home and Cooper searched the house for her, calling her name.

Goodbye to our first born. We will love you and miss you more than you can ever imagine. We wish you a life full of lazy days in sunny spots, perpetual tummy rubs and the knowledge that we loved you enough to know that you needed more than we could provide. We hope to see you again. We will always love you.

Arooooo,
Your first family

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Find Me (my sanity)

If you are a parent or have ever road tripped with a two year old you can appreciate this.

On a long drive home from Saint Paul, MN I had a marathon session of hide-n-seek with my two year old. Yes we were both belted into our seats.

Anyone who has ever played this game before knows that once a blanket is draped oh-so-delicately over your head, bare feet sticking straight out the front, you are (in fact) invisible to the mommy peering awkwardly around the front seat.

It was nice to get the occasional giggle as a hint or better yet "where's Cooper?" " UNDER THE BLANKET MOM!"

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Say a prayer and pass me a beer

Something completely ironic struck me so funny the other day, I almost had the water I was drinking shoot out my nose.

A young girl was wearing a "Jesus" tee with a big tiger face on it. Not that the tiger is significant, just that it was interesting to me why a tiger would be on an otherwise religious tee shirt. Grrowl. Praise ye holy on high. Enough mockery, I shall continue before a lightning bolt springs forth from the sky and warns me of my sins. Eeek.

Anyway, this gal was obviously trying to get the point across that she was holy. I get it. Amen.

But it just so happens that it was this past Friday. The very first Friday of lent. The very same first Friday that Catholics are to not eat meat. Well this sassy pants Jesus lovin' lady was mowing on a hot dog. When I say mowing, I mean mowing on that hopeless piece of meat like it was the last supper. Sorry for that absolutely horrible pun.

Not sure why it struck me as funny. Anyone who knows me knows that I try not to be judgmental but GOOD LORD.

Then I got to thinking, maybe she was Jesus in disguise. Sent to earth to remind me that I too should not have eaten meat as I sat digesting my Milios #4 turkey sandwich (hold the sprouts.) Could it be a sign from heaven? What could it mean?

Then I snapped back into reality and realized that I was sitting in a Target cafe over analyzing life and needed a beer. Three hours as I polished off my second brew, I thanked God that I had the wisdom to know when I needed a drink.

Amen.