State Street Deli Presents Riley Dirksen LIVE!….at Night!

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Years ago my husband learned to play guitar. I might be biased but I think he’s the best musician in all the land has an amazing singing voice. Every once in a while he will play his music in area restaurants and bars in North Iowa. This past weekend he played at State Street Deli in Mason City.

Now, this wasn’t just your any day music playing at State Street Deli. Once a month, the mouth-watering sandwich shop opens its doors during evening hours to serve beer, sandwiches and pizza (more pizza!!!! BTW-NOT on their normal menu.)

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The place was packed with all sorts of family, friends, co-workers and members of the community. It was a fun way to spend a Friday night. Now I know pizza was the special item on the menu Friday night, however, I can never pass up the #1 seller of the #4 Michigan Avenue! It’s the most amazing twist on a turkey/bacon sandwich. the peppered bread at the Chipotle Raspberry Mayo are TO DIE FOR! It’s definitely what makes State Street Deli stand out from other sandwich shops in town.

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I love that State Street Deli only picks one night a month to be open late and serve pizza. I know that a ton of people in our community want this fabulous local restaurant to be open constantly (along with myself,) but I think picking one night to be open a month makes it a special event and people plan their night around it (or we do anyway.) It has the feeling of being exclusive and it really packs the house.

I am super bummed that I forgot to take a picture of my sandwich before i devoured it but you’re just going to have to trust me that it looks as beautiful as it tastes. If you’re new to the North Iowa are or you are wanting to impress a client, take them to State Street Deli!

Make sure to check out State Street Deli’s Facebook Page and website to stay up to date on their daily lunch specials, hours, and monthly special night hours and live music!

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You Call That A Surprise?

In early February my husband, Riley, told me he wanted to surprise me with a special day to celebrate a successful Cupid’s Undie Run, Valentine’s Day, Everett’s Birthday and to relieve the stress of being recently unemployed. We have a lot to celebrate this time of year and I was so excited he wanted to surprise me! I have never been surprised with an event like this before. I had a surprise birthday party before but not a surprise date like this!

We had to choose a weekend that was after Cupid’s Undie Run (if you know Cupid’s, you know I’m insanely busy and lacking pants–that will be a post in itself!) I chose to go with the weekend of March 14th.

I immediately began to think of what we could possibly be doing on “My Special Day.” All I knew was traveling was going to be involved, and Everett was going to be at Grandma Jodie and Grandpa Mike’s from 10:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. A few things I thought my day would involve include:

  • A canvas painting class
  • A cooking class at the Kitchen Window in Minneapolis
  • The beginning of our Restaurant Tour De Iowa
  • A Trip to Ikea to pick up my big dinning room buffet counter thing I want
  • A shopping trip in general
  • Something 50 shades themed (I thought this after Riley said, “I will completely understand if you don’t want to do it, and you just say “Um, No.”)

Since we have so much happening between February and March in our lives, the month went by very quickly and before I knew it I was getting ready for a surprise trip of a lifetime.

mcdonaldsWe started at McDonald’s! McDonald’s is right down the street from our home and Riley often gets up on Saturday mornings to grab us large Caramel Mochas to start our day. It only made sense that we go there. As we pull out of the parking lot, Riley turns right and I immediately know we are not going to Minneapolis, but some where South!

We were on the road for about an hour and a half and it was getting close to noon and I was getting hungry. I was hoping we were stopping soon and soon we did. We turned off the interstate to head to Ames! Lunch time was here and Riley found this gem on Yelp…

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The Mucky Duck Pub is the 2nd rated Restaurant in Ames on Yelp!. They have authentic British Style food and they are also the home of Ames British Foods. Some items they have on their menu include the obvious of Fish and Chips, but also: Bangers and Mash, Mushy Peas, Haggis, and Pastys. We got inside and sat ourselves and to our surprise, the artwork we sat next to was created by Tom Whalen of Mason City!

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Riley and I both ordered the Fish and Chips and we decided to see what the Mushy Peas business was all about. Ciders are $1 off on Saturdays so I helped myself to a Crispin Honey Crisp Hard Apple Cider. It was amazing. I forgot to ask Riley exactly what the ordered. It was a beer on tap and it was dark and surprisingly smooth.

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Everything was very authentic at the Mucky Duck Pub, all the way to the people running the place speaking with British accents. The Fish and Chips were good. Nice and crispy. As you can see in the photo above, Mushy Peas is just that, it looks like Everett’s pureed baby food. When I took a bite though I was shocked. I don’t know what all they put in it but I wanted to take some to go. It was hearty and amazing. Almost like a mashed potato, but with peas.

My Honey Crisp Cider only came in a 20 ounce bottle (oh shoot.) It was a nice light cider and it’s perfect for day drinking outside on a beautiful afternoon. I will admit i had a slight buzz after lunch time, but Riley assured me that we were only going down the road for the next destination, in which we needed to be there by 2:00 p.m.

It was nice to have some quiet time to ourselves at lunch and to talk with just us two and spend quality time together. We finished up our drinks and were off.

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We are driving along and I am trying to think in my head “What in the world are we doing?” I was still thinking we were going to take a cooking class of some sort but it didn’t really make sense because we just had a huge lunch. We turned around the corner and parked by a parking meter in front of the Ames Pantorium. I had no idea what it was and I was confused as we were getting out of the car and he was all like, “Aren’t you excited about the Pantorium? JUST KIDDING! That’s not where we are going.” Then I looked across the street and saw……

IMG_2216My husband made us appointments to get crazy parent tattoos. I was in shock and disbelief and didn’t know what to think. This didn’t even remotely cross my mind as a surprise fun thing to do. Also, I nearly had no idea what I was going to get! It was a good thing our appointment wasn’t until 3 so I had a good hour and half to decide what I wanted to get. Now I understood why Riley was nervous if I was going to like this surprise or when he said he would understand if I just said “Um, No.”

Heroic Ink Tattoo is a top rated tattoo shop and the inside is very fun. It just so happens that Izzy, one of the artists there, is the same tattoo artist that Riley got his first tattoo from years and years ago. A wonderful gal named Tracy would be doing our tattoos this day.

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Riley was lucky that I had just been on pinterest a few weeks prior looking at cute tattoos for birthdates of children. We both decided we wanted to have Everett’s birthday but we each did it with our own style. Tracy was amazing and very precise. Tracy is actually on the Skunk River Riot Roller Derby team and they have played against the River City Dames of Anarchy. Small World!

Since I had already consumed 2 coffees and 2 ciders I needed to go to the bathroom a lot while we were waiting. It may have just been the nerves or the liquids but it was close to 3 times. The bathroom, I know I should have taken a picture, but it was loaded with pictures of Jesus. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. After my third trip it was already 3 o’clock and it was time to get the ink done!

Riley was up first. He decided he wanted to get a tattoo on his forearm with an E and Everett’s birthdate: 3.5.14.  I asked Riley if it hurt and he said no, but today he totally admitted that it hurt like hell.

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My turn next! I found some awesome pins on pinterest of roman numerals going down the spine and I thought it was so elegant. So I wanted it. Of course, with my NF, Scoliosis is a side effect and we were having a hard time making it straight. I appreciate Tracy’s perfectionism and patience to make my tattoo look as straight as possible on my back. I could easily tell she cares about each and every one of her clients.

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Holy No Pants Batman. I just got a tattoo. I know, I have gotten two others but this one was the most crazy spur of the moment….for me at least. My husband had over a month to think about it! I wanted to be a sport for him because I told him I would do whatever he planned. I was not expecting this in the least. I am glad the thought crossed my mind that sometime….IN THE FUTURE FUTURE….to get a birth date tattoo…but what better day than my surprise special day? WE ARE CRAZY PARENTS!

FullSizeRender 2 FullSizeRenderOn another note, I love Tracy’s business cards. If you’re wanting a well-done tattoo, call Tracy at Heroic Ink!

Our trip wasn’t done yet!!! Well, it was, but Riley didn’t time it exactly right so he called Grandma and Grandpa to see if E could stay with them over night. We continued with our next stop of going to Old Chicago! Now I know Old Chicago is a chain restaurant and my husband and I like to stay away from them, but since me and my North Iowa Bloggers just had a Pizza Taste Off, I had to try some Old Chicago.

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We got our classic pepperoni pizza and my oh my do they know how to pack on the peps! the crust was nice and crispy and every single inch of the pizza was covered with pepperonis. Riley said “I’m going to have to learn to become patient with your blogging because I have to wait for you to take a pic before we can eat!”

We didn’t quite finish it so we boxed it up and took the rest home. Since we were kidless for the night we were going to catch a 9:30 movie. We got home home around 7:30 and took a quick nap before our movie night topper. Riley set his alarm for 9:00 so we would be set to go.  When the alarm went off neither of us wanted to move too much. Needless to say, these crazy parents ended up sleeping until 7:00 this morning! We were ok with it though. It was nice to be together with just us two for a day. We got to spend some quality time together and we laughed and had so much fun. I look forward to the next surprise special day. But I don’t know how I will top this for a surprise trip for Riley.

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ps. I flipped the photo so you could read the tattoos the right way.

#PizzaTasteOff2015….in PANTS?!

Heeeeeyyyyaaaa!!! This is my very first post and I am so excited it’s about pizza! Pizza is one of my all time favorite foods.  I recently joined a group called the “North Iowa Bloggers.” It’s a fantastic group of individuals who all blog about things such as travel, entertainment, food, and fitness. The group gets together often to talk about adventures they are having and what they are blogging about. They also give tricks, tips and advice on how to improve your blog or social media outreach.

ANYWAY! My first adventure with them was the EPIC #PizzaTasteOff2015. We all got together and sampled different pizzas in North Iowa and rated them on what we liked the most! (BIG THANKS TO: Kum & Go, Godfather’s (G-Daddy’s), and Casey’s Pizza for donating pizzas to our review and for having fun with us on Twitter!)

Pizzas I was excited to try include: Godfather’s Chicken Bacon Ranch, Pasta Bella’s Margherita Pizza, Kum & Go’s Breakfast Pizza, Udi’s Frozen Gluten Free Pizza, Casey’s Hamburger Pizza, and Kum & Go’s Taco Pizza. Without further ado….THIS IS WHAT I THINK:

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Udi’s – This was a frozen gluten-free pizza bought from Wal-Mart for our gluten-free friends. For me, the crust was too thin. Those of you who know me know I am a crazy Italian lady who loves her bread. SHOW ME THE CARBS. Since it is gluten-free I also thought the texture was a little more grainy than what I would think a “normal” pizza would taste like.  Other than that it tasted like a perfect Margherita Pizza. My favorite part was the mozzarella balls that were melted on top

Kum & Go Taco – First of all let me just say, “Kum & Go gas stations have pizza? Since when?! I worked at a Kum & Go long ago and there was no pizza for me to enjoy then!” I wanted to try their Taco pizza but G-Daddy wanted to interrupt me and tell me that they have the best Taco pizza of all time, but they would let Kum & Go finish. I gave it a shot and Kum & Go’s pizza crust is similar to Godfather’s pizza in that it is a big thicker and can stand for a little while without getting soggy. I will admit that the Kum & Go Taco pizza did not have the zing I thought it would. Unfortunately I felt like it was a hamburger pizza with lettuce thrown on top.

Casey’s General Store – Casey’s has some nice classic pizzas and they are for a good price. I’ve had their pepperoni pizzas plenty of times as they are right down the street for my home and my husband is an avid pepperoni pizza man. Tonight I tried their Hamburger Pizza. It’s great if you’re looking to have a simple pizza but aren’t into the spiciness of the sausage. It’s the kind of pizza where there are no surprises.

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Godfather’s Pizza – G-Daddy’s in Mason City is a major staple in the North Iowa community and the management who run the place have been there for years. I want to say since before I was born. They are so friendly and you can tell it really rubs off on their employees and their employees are equally as friendly and helpful to their customers. They have been running a big campaign with their Chicken Pizzas and tonight they offered us a Chicken Bacon Ranch and Combo Pizza. I tried the Chicken Bacon Ranch Pizza and I am going to be honest, when I saw that they were doin’ it big with Chicken Pizzas I was a bit disappointed. I didn’t think a chicken pizza would be very good but man…….

— Mrs.Flint (@FlintKaty) March 11, 2015

I absolutely LOVE their Chicken Bacon Ranch pizza. Definitely going to order it again. The ladies aren’t going to know what to do with themselves because I am a Taco, Sausage, or Pepperoni kind of girl. I am so glad I went out of the box and tried something I was skeptical of! Follow Godfather’s on Twitter and see that they will let me know when a marketing position is open because they love my nick-name for them so much!

Kum & Go – I tried a second Kum & Go pizza. This time around was their Breakfast pizza. It was fun because it had all the fixin’s such as hash browns, eggs, melted cheese, bacon, sausage goodness put onto a beautiful crust. It’s something great to get when you need to grab a bite to eat on your way to work in the morning and it’s delicious. KG Breakfast pizza came in 2nd place in our Taste Off and it was well deserved. It is hard to go wrong with breakfast items for me. It’s my favorite meal of the day but more often gets eaten for dinner. I am so excited to know that Kum & Go has breakfast pizza now because I can just walk down the street on Saturday mornings and get coffee and pizza for my little family for breakfast. (Maybe G-Daddy’s will make one some day?)

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Photo by Donna Hup and the Donna Hup Selfie Stick!

Drumroll pppllllleaaaaseee!!!!
PASTA BELLA WINS THE TASTE OFF! Pasta Bella is a new Italian Restaurant in Mason City, IA and all I have been hearing about it their pizza!!! I know they have great pastas and I was excited to hear we had a Pasta Bella entry for the Taste Off. We tried an Italian classic of Margherita pizza which consists of cheese, tomato and sauce. The exciting part about when I tried this pizza was I was instantly taken back to when I went on a month-long journey to Italy in 2010. Although the actual pizza was born in america, The pizza looked like it came straight out of a brick oven in Rome. It also tasted just like the pizza I had when I was in Italy. It. Was. Awesome. Now I know if I ever want to go to Italy again, that I can go to Pasta Bella and have some wine and eat pizza!

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Along with pizzas we had many amazing salads including one made by Val Plagge of Corn, Beans, Pigs, and Kids. They butcher their own pigs and make their own bacon!! Talk about thick bacon! check out her blog to see the Overnight Salad she made for our event.

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