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Monday, April 28, 2014

Envision Artopia

Fashion was alive at Orchestra Hall on Saturday night for one of the biggest fashion events in Minneapolis this year - Envision Artopia.  Not only did fourteen local designers present their spring/summer 2014 lines, but the latest fashion trends could easily be spotted in the crowd of spectators.  Orchestra Hall was the perfect location for this event.  The cityscape served as the backdrop of the runway which was located on ground level.  Those with premium tickets sat front row.  Those with general admission tickets lined the staircase and balconies at each of the three levels to view the show from above.  The event was extremely well attended and featured of-the-moment looks from Minnesota designers and boutiques. 

Each designer had a distinct aesthetic.  Standouts for me were Cocoon, Khampian Vang, Samantha Rei, Roe Wolfe, and my favorite - Russel Bourrien.

  • Cocoon sent down a very professional line paired with statement jewelry.
  • Khampian Vang played with combining leather with print fabrics.  The clothes were very well tailored, and the looks were polished off with Egyptian themed jewelry.
  • Samantha Rei is one of the more commercial/wearable designers.  She paired flowy/frilly dresses with booties.  Think Abigail Breslin in the movie Signs.
  • Roe Wolfe also has a more commercial look and is also very feminine.  I've actually shopped at this boutique and really identify with the style - beachy, boho.
  • Russel Bourrien's menswear line was such a breath of fresh air.  His looks were very avant garde and yet had an ease to them.  This was the most interesting line of the evening.  His looks were very militaristic and featured unusual silhouettes including kilts, jumpsuits, a Sherlock Holmes long caped trench coat, and cargo slouchy pants for men. 
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Spring Trends
Based on the looks put down the runway as well as the looks that I observed on spectators, here are some of the key trends for spring 2014 and fun examples that I found:
  • Booties:  Pair these with dresses, skirts, shorts, pants, and jeans.  So easy, right? rag & bone 'Harrow' Bootie (Online Only)    Sam Edelman 'Ellie' Cage Peep Toe BootieSam Edelman 'Louie' Boot(Nordstrom)
  • Gold Statement Jewelry:  It's for women and men.  Big chains, huge pieces.  For women, this trend was coming through in the form of Egyptian inspired pieces.  Snakes, Eye of Ra, geometric shapes, coins, and the phoenix bird.  Very cool.  Rebecca Boatfield Pyramid gold necklaceBanana Republic Regatta Statement Necklace - Gold Vintage Gold Navy Blue Enamel Egyptian Revival Necklace Costume Jewelry 

  • Jumpers:  In the form of shorts and a tank top or pants and a tank top.  It can be dressed up for evening wear or dressed down for the beach. (He)

  • Hats: Casual hats for the beach or Von Trapp style hats for day or night.     

  • Slouchy pants:  This is a trend I've been really excited about.  Casual or dress pants that have a large crotch/thigh/hip and then taper down to a tight ankle.  Sounds ridiculous but when worn right, very trendy. R13 Carpenter Harem Pants - O.D. BlackBlack and white ethnic print jogger pants -  (Maurices)

  • Long sheer skirt layered over a short skirt:  Beachwear, daywear, or eveningwear  Pink Pleated Chiffon Split Side Long Sheer Skirt pictures(Sheinside)
The pictures included are just examples of the trends viewed on the runway of Envision Artopia. 

Sunday, April 27, 2014


I found myself in quite a creative mood yesterday.  Check out my new art for the kitchen!!  Guess what I used... wine, coffee, beer, and port wine.  Most of my favorite beverages.  I thought it was quite apropos for the kitchen.  It was so easy!  I just drizzled the beverages all over the white canvas.  I let it dry overnight and then we just hung it up on the wall.  My husband is sure the ants and flies are going to have a hayday with this... I may need to cover it with a clear coating.  Of course he would think of that.  I just thought it would look cool so I went for it.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Dangerous Man Brewery

Dangerous Man is one of the best breweries in town.  Here's why:
  • They have consistently delicious and interesting beers
  • Their beer list changes frequently, but they keep their amazing flagship beers (Chocolate Milk Stout) on permanent rotation
  • Their tap room has better hours than most
  • They let you bring in your own food to munch on while enjoying their beer
  • They have the best logo.  Can't beat a dude with a serious beard.
Last night I thoroughly enjoyed their Matchbox Coffee Porter and my husband enjoyed the Belgian Dark Strong (11%!).  Good stuff.  One of our friends ordered the Cara Cara Wit which is a really nice Belgian ale.  Our other friend ordered the homemade soda - blueberry and hibiscus.  Wow.  That was surprising and amazing.

Dangerous Man is located in Northeast Minneapolis.  Fairly close to Indeed Brewing, 612, Bang, and Sociable Cider Werks if you want to make a night out of it.

Check out our Dangerous Man feast:

Friday, April 25, 2014

Brave New Workshop comedy show - keeping a pulse on Minnesota pop culture

After enjoying a fantastic dinner at Butcher & the Boar in downtown Minneapolis, we ventured a few blocks away to the Brave New Workshop comedy show.  This is definitely a Minnesota must-do.  BNW is not stand-up or improv, but  features Saturday Night Live-like skits.  Subject matter of the skits varies, but you can always count on some good ol' Minnesota humor as well as relationship humor.  It can be a little explicit at times, but it is sure to deliver an evening of full of laughter.  We saw the preview show last night where they try out a bunch of skits and vet out the ones that don't garner as much laughter or applause others.  What a fun idea!  Then the real show is sure to deliver the best material.  My favorite skits centered around a new couple's first kiss, a song about the Minnesota goodbye (you all know what I'm talking about), a couple's Netflix queue, firemen visiting a school, and the devious cat.  I seriously wish I had jotted down all the one liners that kept me laughing to the point of tears.

BNW features specialty cocktails for $6, as well as beer, wine, and snacks.  They even have servers to take your order and bring it to your table.  Whether you are on a date or hanging with friends, BNW makes for an excellent night out.  They are currently showing "A Pedal Pub Named Desire" and tickets cost between $10-$30.  

Butcher & The Boar

I have been anxiously waiting to eat at Butcher & the Boar for quite a while.  It finally worked out to go last night.  I was so impressed; the meat is incredible.  By now you know that I'm an experienced carnivore, specifically in the rib space, but I was particularly impressed with the B&TB's long ribs.  They were so tender and juicy and the glaze was perfect.  We also enjoyed the duck jerk sausage and the pork and cheddar sausage.  We also ordered the fried tomatoes, spicy brussels sprouts, and the wood fired sweet potatoes.  Just phenomenal food.  Thankfully we had a friend to share everything with, and were able to try a lot of things on the menu.  They even had Wyders pear cider on tap which was delicious.  I cannot wait to go back and try other things on the menu. 

Apart from the mouth-watering food and the abundance of craft beer, wine, bourbon, and alcohol, the ambiance is really cool as well.  They have a large bar, dining area, and they even have an outdoor beer garden that is heated in the winter.  Very cool place to check out during any of Minnesota's wonderful seasons. I highly recommend planning ahead and making reservations.  We've tried to walk in several times and they haven't had any availability.


The ribs.

The sausage.

The sides.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Gander Mountain Academy

I'm so glad I had an indoor activity planned for yesterday evening because the weather sucks!  My husband, friend and I met at Gander Mountain in Lakeville to shoot my husband's new gun at the shooting range.  We had so much fun!  Gander really does an excellent job operating their shooting range.  You watch a quick safety video prior to entering the range.  They have an attendant inside the range to answer questions and make sure everyone is being safe.  They don't rent guns, but you can bring in as many of your own guns as you want - both pistols and certain rifles.  They also have a simulation where you can practice certain scenarios in a virtual arena.  We rented the lane for an hour and it only cost $25.  Shooting for an hour requires a lot of ammo so it tends to be an expensive hobby, but I feel that it is a good skill to have.  It's also quite satisfying to keep improving my marksmanship!   Check out our targets!

This is my target with a 22 handgun at 15 meters.

My husband's target with a 9mm CZ at 20 meters.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Battle Creek Park

Fourth day in a row of exercising outside!  But I think my streak will end tomorrow :(  Today I chose to rollerblade at Battle Creek Park which is situated on the edge of Woodbury and Maplewood.  The park is vast and has many miles of bike trails.  It is a beautiful park as the trails wind through the trees.  The trails span outward in all directions from the park and connect to other trails through Woodbury, Maplewood, and St. Paul.  It's really fun to explore.  And it's particularly beautiful in the fall.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Lake Nokomis

I decided to take advantage of the nice weather today and spice up my workout by running at Lake Nokomis!  I think this would be a really cool place to hang out in the summer.  You can rent canoes, lay out at the beach, eat lunch on the beach at the Sandcastle restaurant, run, walk, and people watch!  This park has other amenities such as a lot of parking and a boat launch. 

According to my GPS watch, the lake is 2.5 miles around.  That's if you stick to the inner-most path, stay on the east side of the lake and don't cross over Cedar to the west side.  That's about perfect for a walk.

Thankfully Lake Nokomis is quite convenient to get to from my work so I plan on running there more often.  Ah Vitamin D... my favorite vitamin by far. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


Wine bar, deli, coffee shop.  All the things I want at lunch time...except for wine... :D...

My friend and I decided to venture beyond our normal lunch venues and check out Mendoberri.  Mendoberri is located at the intersection of Dodd and Hwy 110 in Mendota Heights.  It's nestled in a wellness mecca of sorts - yoga studios, clinics, various boutiques.  I wish I had time to wander around and explore.  Anyway, Mendoberri features locally sourced, organic food that is crafted into fantastic homemade soup, salad, wood stone oven sandwiches.  They also have a nice selection of wine and dessert. 

I have been craving fish lately so I opted for the salmon which was truly fantastic.  I will say it was a little over priced at $14, but it was cooked perfectly and the accompanying veggies were also very delicious.  

My friend ordered the Longini sandwich which has salami, pesto, brie, and spinach.  Yum.  She also ordered the lobster bisque. 

While certain menu items are over priced, if you want a fantastic soup, salad, or sandwich, Mendoberri is an excellent option. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Day Block Brewery

Saturday night's festivities also brought us to Day Block Brewery in Minneapolis.  I'm continuously amazed at the craft brew scene in Minnesota.  You would think that the market would be saturated with more than 20 breweries in the Metro area alone.  But they all seem to get a piece of the pie and benefit from the craft brew movement.  They even stimulate other areas of the economy by creating or enhancing the market for brewery hopping tours, beer festivals, and food trucks.  I love it, and I love the variety. 

Day Block is right on Washington Ave, closer to campus than the North Loop.  It is actually a brew pub as they brew their own beer, but also serve food.  Unfortunately we were not hungry so we didn't partake in the incredibly tempting bacon flight, pickle flight, or super crafty pizzas.  They had five beers on tap so we tried them all.  My favorite was definitely the coffee porter.  The stout was also good - very smooth. 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Mill in Northeast

Suffice it to say, it's been a long month and we were in need of a good date night.  My husband had read an article in the Star Tribune about some good restaurants in northeast Minneapolis on Central Avenue so we decided to head that direction for dinner.  We went to the Mill.  You can't miss it, it's one of the nicer/newer buildings in that area.  We sat down and perused the extremely interesting and creative options on the menu.  I decided to go with something a little more familiar - braised beef over wild rice.  My husband got the pork belly crepes over polenta.  Both were extremely delicious meals. 

We also ordered some crazy cocktails and loved those as well.  Here's a snap shot of the drink menu. 

These mixologists really let their creative juices flow here.  We were so impressed with the "Tijuana Brass Band" that we are going to try and make it at home.  We also ordered the "Is It About My Cube".

 Then of course we had to try a dessert.  We shared what was basically a marriage of berry pie and cheese cake with crumble topping.  It was served with berry ice cream and was all kinds of delicious. 

We loved the restaurant, had an awesome waitress, and now want to go back and experience their brunch!

Saturday, April 12, 2014


What is one of my favorite things to do when it warms up outside?  Go motorcycling with my man, of course!  Yesterday I left work early since it was so nice out and we went on a motorcycle ride around our area.  It's so much fun just to wander, feel the air rush by, hug my man, and speed along.  He even gave me my first riding lesson yesterday!  Thankfully I already drive a stick shift car so I had some of the principles down already.  Hopefully I can gain some real experience and skills this summer!

Thursday, April 10, 2014


Ahh....sushi.  I'm definitely getting to the point where I crave it.  A lot.  I've been to Sakana a few times and have enjoyed the rolls I've had (the No. 9, Spicy Girl, Godzilla, Sumo, and Dynamite are the ones I remember for sure).  Nestled in the Highland neighborhood of St. Paul, Sakana is unassuming (it used to be a KFC after all), but definitely worth a stop for good sushi.  Their happy hour runs from 4:30 - 6 on weeknights for which they have certain rolls and drinks on special. 

I was just there on Tuesday with a friend.  We decided to order the lychee martini since we've heard good things about it from other restaurants.  Meh.  It was quite sweet and that's about it.  No specific flavor other than sugar.  And can we all please agree that lychee is the creepiest looking fruit? 

Another great thing about Sakana is that they often have groupon deals. 

Looking forward to continuing my sushi tour of the Metro.  Stay tuned...

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Freehouse

Finally got to hang out at the Freehouse in North Loop on Monday with my siblings!  They got the flight of 8 beers which they enjoyed.  Nice range of styles.  I just got a glass of the stout which is one of the better stouts I've had.  What I really liked was the variety of sizes to choose from.  You can get a flight which is about 2 oz of each.  You can get just one 2 oz beer if you just want to taste something.  You can also get a 4 oz glass or a pint.  Sometimes I just want to taste something, but don't want to commit to a whole pint, so this is perfect.  They serve food, but we had already eaten.  My husband got the lemon meringue cake which he liked.  It definitely tasted like lemon meringue pie in cake form.  Very interesting.  I definitely want to go back.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Boutique Crawl in the North Loop

This week I realized I have serious cabin fever.  I love being home and getting stuff done, but I also love being out and about - exploring, getting vitamin D, exercising outside.  I checked the City Pages and the in hopes of finding something interesting to do this weekend.  That's when I noticed the Boutique Crawl was happening today!!!!  Perfect.  I could do all the things I listed above, in a new neighborhood, for the purpose of shopping!!!!!  Can you tell I was excited?

What is a boutique crawl you may ask?  Apparently there are at least 7 clothing boutiques in North Loop.  They all collaborated to create the Boutique Crawl.  Armed with a map, you visit all seven, get your map stamped, and you are entered to win a $500 shopping spree.  At each location, you shop, eat/drink refreshments, and enjoy 20% off your purchase.  Seriously, this event was created for me.  I've lately become a little bored with my norms - Express, the Limited, H & M, Gap.  (Target is a norm as well, but I could never tire of my beloved Target with whom I have a very passionate love/hate relationship.)

First stop - Roe Wolfe.  I loved this boutique.  It was totally my style, the prices were pretty reasonable.  I purchased this dress which I just love and can't wait to wear this summer.  I also liked this tank top.

Second stop - Handsome Cycles.  Meh.  I am not a cyclist.

Third stop - Lole.  This is a boutique featuring active clothing - mostly for yoga and running.  While I loved so many things there, I still can't justify spending that much money on things I'm only going to wear for an hour a day.  Especially when I can get equally as cute pieces from ... Target.  Here are some of the pieces I liked from this store.

Fourth stop - Statement Boutique.  I really liked this store too.  This was the most affordable boutique.  Here are some of the things I liked from Statement.  The sunglasses shown with the Roe Wolfe dress are from Statement.

Well then it was about time for coffee.  I stopped in at Moose & Sadies and got some delicious coffee as well as a butterscotch malted blondie for my man.

Fifth stop - D.Nolo.  Yikes.  I could not afford the thread in these clothes.  They were absolutely beautiful pieces.  Things I would love to own - very urban chic.  I wanted to take pictures, but didn't even feel comfortable touching the pieces since I hadn't washed my hands since I left my house.  I did sneak one picture of a leather coat I liked though.

Sixth stop - C'est Chic.  This is a European boutique for women older than I.  I grabbed a macaroon for the man and left.

And then I walked by the North Loop Wine & Spirits.  Couldn't resist.  I was hoping I'd find some hipster ciders for the man.  Success!  I walked up to the counter with an arm load of hard cider bottles.  As I still had one more stop left, the woman was very kind to let me keep my bags there and return after I hit the last boutique. 

Seventh stop - Arrow.  Another expensive urban chic boutique that I couldn't afford.  Very fun to look around though.

I love the industrial, modern decor of each of the boutiques.  Makes it feel more like a studio and that every time you try on a piece, you are part of the artistry and only you can make the piece come alive. 

What a perfect day to be out and about.  I happily walked the 6 blocks to my car with all my loot in tow. 

Flambeed Fruit over Ice Cream

My husband has many talents.  One of which is a little something he picked up in his teenage years - flaming fruit over ice cream.  Amazing.  Not only is it a crowd-pleaser visually speaking, but it is so delicious.  Here's his process:

1.  Add brown sugar and a little butter in a pan and heat over the burner.

2.  Add an alcohol mixture of rum, brandy, and whiskey once the sugar/butter is heated.

3.  Add fruit of choice (strawberries, peaches, blueberries, apples, raspberries, pineapple...) and sautee.

4.  Turn the pan ever so slightly so the flame touches the alcohol (for gas ranges) or use a lighter to create a flame and touch to alcohol.  Stand back.  We sometimes turn out the lights to appreciate the flame.

5.  Let all the alcohol burn off and continue to cook for a few minutes.

6.  Pour over ice cream, cheesecake, or pound cake or whatever you'd like.  This is strawberries and pineapple over ice cream.