Hellraising Hot Sauce at Heat Up Your Life

A couple of weekends ago, DT and I had the opportunity to participate in Heat Up Your Life with our Hellraising Hot Sauce.

Heat Up Your Life poster

This was the first year for the event, also the first time we had a booth for our product. We didn’t know what to expect, but it was such a fun day! About 12 local food producers took part – from hot sauce to barbeque sauce to sauerkraut to salsa to gourmet candies….sampling everyone’s goods was a real treat, literally and figuratively.

Heat Up Your Life - setting up

Setting up.

The event took place in the parking lot of Bent Brewstillery – they were awesome hosts. We worked with the owner/creator of Nuclear Nectar to secure our spot in the spicy lineup, and we shared a space with John from Artisan Minnesota. He was a wonderful booth buddy!

Bent Brewstillery patio

To go along with the “Heat Up Your Life” theme, Bent was pouring a special Ghost Pepper Stout that day. Rusty Taco and Potter’s Pasties food trucks were on hand for extra snacks beyond the samples.

Rusty Taco

Bent Brewstillery taproom

Bent Brewstillery’s taproom.

It was the perfect fall day to drink some beer and enjoy the concoctions of our fellow local food creators. A few we knew from our own commercial kitchen (John, also Tony and Leslie from Isabel Street Heat), or just through word about town, but a lot of these folks we’d never heard of and it was a pleasure to meet them. It was great to connect and see what other delicious ideas are out there, and so close to home.

Heat Up Your Life 1

Check them out in the links above and a few more here….

Lucky’s Hot Sauce

Comfort Candy

Fierce Ferments

Caribbean Heat

Heat Up Your Life 2

There’s Hellraising!

Heat Up Your Life 3

Taproom at night

DT and I are crossing fingers that Heat Up Your Life returns for a second year (and third, and fourth, and fifth….). Many thanks, Bent Brewstillery and Nuclear Nectar!

Dad’s Big Birthday Weekend II

As if one Big Birthday Weekend wasn’t enough, there must be one more!

Our first BBW had a scheduling snafoo for some family members, but DT, the kids, and I made our way back up to Alexandria for a redo. We were even lucky enough to cross paths briefly with Dustin and Allison, who were also in town for a cabin-with-friends weekend.

Inspiration Peak plaque

Our day started with a pretty drive through the country, destination: Inspiration Peak. I can’t believe I have roots in Alexandria spanning my entire life and still had never been here. It’s 1,750 feet high – one of the highest points in the state of Minnesota.

Inspiration Peak hike 1

Inspiration Peak hike 2

The hike up to the top is pretty quick (1/4 mile), but plenty steep the whole way. But when you get there, you get to see this:

Inspiration Peak 1

Inspiration Peak 2

Inspiration Peak 3

And this:

Inspiration Peak 4

Inspiration Peak 5

Henry photographer

Henry capturing the scene.

And this:

Inspiration Peak 6

Inspiration Peak 7


Mom and me, Inspiration Peak

On the way back to town we stopped by Leaf Valley Mercantile for a very late lunch. This is totally our kind of place, and Henry got his cheeseburger.

Leaf Valley tractor

Leaf Valley

Leaf Valley bar

Look familiar?!

Casey's 1

Casey's 2Casey's 3

Casey's 4Casey's 5

Casey's 6

Casey's 7

Casey's 8

Yes, we made a return visit to Casey’s for a fiercely competitive round of miniature golf. We just missed the rain!

It was not DT’s best game. (Teehee)

But Sam and I tied for second place. :-) :-)

Dad blew us all out of the water!

We had an amazing dinner a la Chef-Randy-mans-the-grill, and for dessert the guys had a special treat. (Mom and I conveniently volunteered to do the dishes.) BeanBoozled: you spin, and wherever you land is the color Jelly Belly you must eat. Except….more than one flavor is green, or white, or yellow, or black. You might get pear, but it might be booger. It could be coconut, but it might be baby wipes. It could be black licorice, but it could be skunk. Or canned dog food, or vomit, or rotten eggs, or grass clippings. You see how pleasant this sounds.

Beanboozled game


Well, anyway, see for yourself….

Beanboozled 1

Beanboozled 2

Beanboozled 3

Looks like tons of fun, doesn’t it?

Beanboozled 5

Beanboozled 6

Beanboozled 6

Beanboozled 7

Beanboozled 8


Beanboozled 9

Beanboozled 10

Bailey 1

Meanwhile, our sweet, poor, exhausted hound.

Have you ever played Farkle? My family is addicted. It’s a dice game that’s a little quirky to learn at first, but once you do, you’ll want to keep playing and playing and playing. We weren’t sure how quickly Sam and Henry would pick up on the rules and the goofy scoring, but they surprised us and were quickly sucked in.

The game was FIERCE!

And the trash talking was epic.

It turned out to be a very late night – we were all pooped by the time we headed for bed.

Mom even read us a story (Diary of a Wimpy Kid) before tucking us in. ;-)

bedtime reading 1

Aww, Mamma. Ever our storyteller.

bedtime reading 2

Then Bailey Louise had to crash the party….

bedtime story 3

bedtime stories 4

On Sunday morning we were rested, refreshed and ready to eat a big breakfast. Fresh eggs from our chicken girls, bacon, toast, cereal….all set for the day!

After digesting just a little, we headed over to my grandparents’ house. Sam and Henry had only met my grandpa once – at our wedding, almost five years ago – and my grandma wasn’t able to be there. So, it was fun to bring everybody together again – I know G&G were just itching to see the guys.

The rain let up just enough so there could be a little outside time. My dad hauled out the old Mule and took the kids (DT included) for a spin. Sam and Henry kicked a soccer ball around the massive yard and did some exploring. Grandma loaded them up on her endless stash of sugary sweets. It was a lovely little visit!

Dad, the kids, and the mule

Mule 1

Mule 2

Mule 3

Mule 4

Mule 5

We squeezed in ONE MORE GAME of Farkle before we hit the road to head home.

Farkle 1

Farkle 2

Farkle 4

Another blast of a weekend in Alexandria is in the books! That the kids could be with us and had so much fun, whatever we found to do, made it all the more spectacular for everyone. Poor Bailey-hound probably slept for days after the Sam-and-Henry-tornado departed! :-)

tired hound

Like this.

Hellraising Hot Sauce Update

I must say, Hellraising Hot Sauce has come a long way since we last spoke about it. DT and I are over the moon! It’s been a crazy six months or so.

Our imposed period of unemployment turned out to be a blessing on the hot sauce front. It gave us solid blocks of uninterrupted time to get our ducks in a row – food safety instruction, acquiring insurance, filing with the MDA/FDA, approving labels, renting commercial kitchen space, inspector signoff, applying for the endless licenses and certificates needed to produce, bottle, and sell our product. It is certainly a tricky system to navigate, there is absolutely no straight line to get from point A to point B. But once you get there….the fun (and work) can begin!

Twin Cities Produce

Pallet of produce.

full vehicle

This buggy is f-u-l-l-!

red jalapeño

Our first official day of production in the commercial kitchen was May 8. It’s so funny to think back on that day and how clueless we were. With all of our supplies and groceries in tow….picking up produce from the wholesaler, setting ourselves up and fumbling around the kitchen for the first time….let’s just say it was a VERY long day. But it was so EXCITING!


GIA kitchen

GIA kitchen 2

Now when we are scheduled at the kitchen, DT and I are like a machine. It’s all business, no small talk, no dilly-dallying….we found a groove in three short months. DT does this, I do that. He starts this, I finish that. And vice versa. It’s good.

First batch of Triple Inferno!

First batch of Triple Inferno!


DT the Hot Saucer.

DT the Hot Saucer.

As you know, Hellraising started with two sauces, Sweet Suffering and Triple Inferno. This summer we released a third sauce, Green Fever – it’s become my new favorite! This recipe is a tad milder than the others, using serrano peppers with lime. The lime flavor is so bright and pairs brilliantly with the pepper heat. I eat it by the spoonful!

Cases of sauce.

Cases of sauce.

cases of sauce 2

We are thrilled to be in a few restaurants around the Twin Cities, including Sea Salt, Señor Wong, Pizza Luce – Richfield, Driftwood Char Bar, and George and the Dragon. Twisted Oak Wood Fired Pizza developed a special pizza recipe using Green Fever which is so cool. We are constantly scouting out other spots and have made some wonderful connections as we stop into places and talk to folks about our sauce.

finished product!

Finished product!

We’ve sold direct to customers that sought us out, hearing about Hellraising one way or another – it’s so crazy and delightfully random. And yet at the same time so purposeful and intentional. The interest and enthusiasm has been so, SO unbelievably inspiring and invigorating. DT and I just relish every minute of it. We LOVE meeting fans!

Our sauces are on the shelves at Guse Green Grocer and we are chatting with a few other grocery stores as well.

Hellraising even has a couple of reviews! You can see them here (Sweet Suffering) and here (Triple Inferno).

It’s been a really exciting time and we are working hard, but enjoying the hard work so, so much. What’s that saying about doing something you love? You’ll never work a day in your life? I think DT and I are now getting to see what that really means and it’s awesome.

So anyway, just wanted to share all of our news….it’s Hellraising all day, every day – yippee! :-)

Tour de Fat 2014

We were in Des Moines when Tour de Fat came through the Twin Cities last year, so we were excited to return for the 2014 visit! Remember 2012?

painting Loring Park

Tour de Fat afar

It was a perfect-summer-weather Saturday for beers and games in Loring Park. We weren’t the only ones with these afternoon plans – so many people, kids, and dogs came out to join this nutty party.

Tour de Fat ahead

polar bear thing 1

polar bear thing 2

Tour de Fat schedule

DT and the kiddos quickly made a beeline for that addictive bicycle tire totem pole….this wasn’t the only time we stopped!

tire game 1

Two Ranger IPAs, please.

New Belgium marquis

Tour de Fat crowd 1

Tour de Fat crowd 2

The giant Connect 4 game:

giant Connect 4 - 1

giant Connect 4 - 2

The crazy fun house mirrors!

crazy mirror 1

crazy mirror 2

crazy mirror 3

tire game 2

DT and me 1

DT and me 2

The fan bike:

Henry - fan bike

Some hula-ing….

hula 1

hula 2

hula 3

Sam and Henry waited in line for a turn to ride the funky bikes and test drove several over a bunch of laps around the ‘track.’

bike track 1

bike track 3

bike track 4

bike track 5

We caught a little show on the big stage….

stage 1

the guys

On our way out, Sam and Henry explored the strange, furry, polar bear-like monstrosity by the entrance gates:

riding the polar bear thing 1

riding the polar bear thing 2

And of course our ritual photo by the Loring Park fountain….

Loring Park fountain

Taylors 1

Taylors 2

Such a fun afternoon, we love when the Tour comes to town!

Dad’s Big Birthday Weekend

I am so woefully behind on all things Life in Spicyland, so this post is coming to you at least three weeks late. Hrm. Better late than never has been my life philosophy lately.

Well, anyway.

My dad turned *60* SIXTY! June 29 AND he [semi] retired March 31, so our family wanted to get together and spend some time celebrating the patriarch. We landed on a July weekend that, remarkably, was open for everyone (you know how jam-packed summer weekends can be). Well, wouldn’t you know it….Sam’s baseball team advanced to the state championship and guess when it was scheduled….just guess. Yes, that July weekend. So unfortunately, DT and the kids couldn’t make it, but we’ve got an August redo on the calendar.

My dad was adamant about keeping it low key, no fuss, no big blowout party – just our immediate family. So that’s what we did.

I didn’t snap photos of every single thing over the weekend, but shown here are a few of the highlights.

My brother, his wife Allison, and I drove up to Alexandria Friday afternoon. We didn’t have any particular itinerary for the weekend – a few ideas of things to do, yes, but no real plans beyond hanging out together, good food on the menu, and some beverages along the way.

We kicked things off with dinner at Sixth Avenue Wine and Ale Friday night, which I must do a detailed post about someday – it is such a wonderful place for so many reasons. I was too busy eating, drinking, and soaking it all up so no real recap on this other than, as always, it was divine.

We woke up to a cool and gloomy Saturday morning. Dustin and Allison were on breakfast duty and whipped up a delightful spread to start our day.

Despite the clouds and drizzle, we headed over to Arrowwood Resort on Lake Darling for an antique boat show they were hosting. Fun to wander the docks!

boat show 1

Visit the Maritime Museum

boat show 2

boat show 3

boat show 4

boat show 5

Dustin, hotrod

Next was a visit to Carlos Creek Winery – a very popular destination in the Alexandria area. We started out with some wine sampling….

Carlos Creek Winery tasting room

wine sampling 1

wine tasting 2

My distinguished brother, deep in thought over his sample.

wine sample 3

….Then moved outside onto their pretty patio to await the live music. And the sun eventually appeared!

Carlos Creek patio

Dad and Dustin

Carlos Creek band stage

Family in a wine barrel!

Family in a wine barrel!

Family 2014

We stopped back to my parents’ and had a late lunch and a little break before figuring out the evening’s plans.

By the way – not only had the sun come out, but it was HOT outside by now! Such a change from how the day began.

Sooo….we should definitely go mini golfing! Casey’s Amusement Park was calling to us.

mini golf 1

mini golf 3

mini golf 3

mini golf 4

mini golf 5

mini golf 6

Certainly no PGA winners among us, but we had a marvelous time anyway!

We worked up quite an appetite after our golf outing and returned back to home base for an enormous, grilled feast. With full bellies after a full day, the whole family retired pretty early Saturday night (#partypoopers).

Sunday: my grandparents came over for brunch, complete with bacon and sausage, eggs (from our chickens!), toast, and fresh fruit. So nice to visit and catch up with them – it just doesn’t happen nearly as often as it should. When it does, though, I’m very grateful.

G&G recently took down a couple of oak trees in their sprawling backyard and donated some of the split wood to DT’s and my Winter Firewood Stash (which, after three winters of burning our fallen oak tree, needed to be replenished!). So, we transported ourselves over to their house after brunch for some chopping and loading.

G&G's yard

splitting wood 1

splitting wood 2

loading wood

Grandpa and Dustin

Grandpa and Dustin

It was a fantastic weekend and I’m so glad we could [almost] all be together to celebrate such a special person. It wasn’t anything wild or crazy, but it was just our family’s speed and really, it wouldn’t have made an ounce of difference what we did. All that mattered was the time spent.

Cheers to you, Dad!

Update: Employed!

I have been so terribly absent on this blog most of 2014. Apologies for the neglect here, I do miss the writing and sharing.

Just to follow up on this post from way back in April….DT and I are officially employed again. Wooooeee!

DT found full-time work and started May 12 – I landed another contract where I was before. Same company/similar role/different department. I just started back on Monday.

So….WHEW! When I think about writing that post, and what a strange time it was for both of us, it’s a little hard to believe. It was darker and colder outside – it felt a lot that way inside too. A lot has happened since we each learned our contracts were ending.

And it’s been a tad surreal this week, driving the same commute, entering the same buildings, walking the same halls, seeing many familiar faces (which has been such a bright light!), where nearly five months ago I was spending my last day and in an absolute, panicked daze.

Well, anyway. We made it through and here we are. More to share with you, but in the meantime, that’s what we’re celebrating these days.

Happy weekend!

Now, About Those Chickens….

It is shameful that I wrote about our little chicken friends nearly a year ago after their arrival and have had zero follow-up since.  What a terrible chicken mamma I am!

So it’s high time I tell you a little more about the birdies.

chickens 1

First of all, they survived one of the most God-awful winters known to the entire state of Minnesota, poor babies.  Of course, our first cold season with them would turn out to be so immensely wretched.  They avoided snow like the plague, so didn’t come out of their coop and run for about five months.  I know they weren’t too happy, but they did just fine.

My dad helped to engineer a heat lamp using a 150-watt lightbulb covered with a clay pot to serve as a source of warmth inside their coop.  Here they are, basking in the glow:

chickens - lamp in coop

How round and plump they look!

I would often see them huddled up around the pot too, I’m sure that must have felt sooooo good to their little bodies.  They are THRILLED that summer [unofficially] is here and they have the run of the yard again.  And that it’s above 12 degrees.

chickens 2

Second, we’ve learned so much about chickens, and each of them has such a distinct personality.  It’s been fun getting to know them – as much as you can know a chicken, I guess!

DT and I consider Gertrude to be kind of like the older, protective sister.  She’s the first one out of the coop when we open the door each morning, and the first to check out any kind of food situation.  She’s also very observant and watchful when they are all out in the yard for any looming creatures, whether it’s a hawk soaring high above, a smaller bird swooping through, or a squirrel skittering about.

Gertie on the roof

It turns out Gertrude does not like when overly-curious dogs come to meet her! So….the garage roof was a better place to hang out that afternoon.

We think Deborah is certifiably nuts.  She’s just a little bit off her rocker, but that only adds to her character.  She had a couple of broody bouts last summer where she just sat and sat and sat and sat and sat in the nesting box, waiting to lay an egg (or sit on one[s] that had already been laid).  DT would don gloves, pull her out of the box (never without a few pecks), and bring her into the backyard to try and “reset” her little brain.  It took some time, but eventually the broodiness broke and she’d come running out with the other two.


Gertie and Deb

Priscilla is a little squawker.  I love talking to her, she’s so chatty and responsive.  We’ve discovered she is the calmest and most docile of the three.  They all love to sunbathe, but Priscilla is usually the first to plop down, close her eyes, and soak up the rays – and isn’t in any hurry to move.  She looks like a little turkey.  We have been thankful for her mild nature as we treat a case of leg mites.  Yes, leg mites.  We are treating our chicken for leg mites.  Picture this scene:  DT chases after Priscilla, grabs and holds her (she’s noisy but mostly agreeable), while I apply a petroleum jelly-coated paper towel (cocoa butter-scented, just to further paint the picture) to her legs.

chickens sunbathing 1

Urban life with chickens, man.

Third, oh how they love FOOD.  They eat and eat and eat!  Bottomless pits, and they aren’t particularly picky.  Some of their absolute favorite foods:  saltines, seeds and ribs from bell peppers, watermelon, corn on the cob, strawberry tops, apples, scrambled eggs (Cannibalism?  Hmm), bread crusts with peanut butter, grilled cheese, bacon (Uh – is that wrong?  Piggy farm friends?), pizza crusts, waffles….the list goes on and on.  And yes, ice cream!  Girls after my own heart.

chickens - ice cream

chickens - saltines

Lastly, watching chickens run is pretty much the funniest thing I have ever seen in my entire life.  As I said to DT last weekend, chickens running will never not be funny.  If one of the girls takes off, the other two quickly notice and break into a lumbering, tipsy tear across the yard.  It’s hilarious.  They definitely travel in a pack.  They groom themselves obsessively, poop constantly (and without any shame or self awareness), and find enormous pleasure in rolling around in the dirt.

chickens - back step

Kitties and birdies living peacefully. Indifferently may be the more accurate description.

Regarding egg production….people always ask how many eggs we get each day.  Our answer varies, but we can safely say on average, two daily.  At least one, maybe even three.  They continued to lay throughout the miserable winter, but the eggs would often freeze and crack, so we had to throw many of them out.  There were a few dry spells where it was simply too cold and not enough daylight to produce.  Lately they’ve been going crazy – two or three without fail, so we’ve been handing out eggs to our family and neighbors so our basement fridge doesn’t burst.

So, that’s the scoop on the girls!  It’s been a fun adventure for all of us, we’ve learned a ton in the near-year they’ve lived here.  I’ve said it a thousand times….they are strrrrrraaaaange little creatures!  But we love having them around.  Hanging out with them on the patio is our new favorite summer pastime.


Beggars at the back door.



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