July Bestowed and a Confession

First, I owe you a recap of the July Bestowed box.

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Inside, there was:

A pass for two weeks of free classes from Barre3.

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A year subscription to Organic Gardening Magazine:

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Vanilla Coconut Macaroons:

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Sweet Potato Chips:

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Health Warrior Chia Bar:

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Butternut Squash Puree:

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And crisps from 34 Degrees:

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I can’t wait to try everything!

And now….for a confession.

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What do all of these places have in common?

Yes, you guessed it. Coffee. I’ve been drinking it!

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Iced coffee to be precise. This is a bit of a crazy thing for me since I’ve always identified myself as ‘not a coffee drinker.’ I’m still not having the stuff hot, but I’ve really been enjoying a cup of iced coffee in the afternoon while working at a coffee shop. What is becoming of me?!

Parents, how are you taking this?

Any tips for not getting totally hooked? I like the coffee shop environment and a refreshing drink, but I don’t want to get to the point where I feel like I ‘need’ it. Also, it’s an expensive habit!

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Muddy Waters and Food Trucks

This week I had two new food experiences.

The first new food experience was going to Muddy Waters for lunch. Muddy Waters is a bar/eatery/coffee shop in Uptown on Lyndale between Lake and Lagoon. I’ve been interested by the establishment for a long time, and I finally made plans to get food there. The atmosphere is pretty unique since it does seem to truly be a coffee shop, bar, and restaurant all rolled into one.

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When you walk in the door, to your right is a full bar and to the left is a full barista bar. The restaurant (and patio, when it’s nice outside) are full of patrons enjoying booze, coffee, or some variety of good eats. For my lunch rendezvous, we stuck with food and coffee. I ordered a malted mocha (something I’ve never seen on a menu before!) and the black bean hummus plate:

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The hummus plate came with carrots, zuchinni, parsley, jalapenos, queso fresco, and grilled bread. The hummus was amazing. I could have eaten it with a spoon. In fact, that’s exactly what I did once I ate all of the veggies/bread. My lunch date ordered a made-t0-order pizza with ricotta cheese and spinach:

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It received high reviews. Although their menu in not that extensive, all of the food was great (and the dishes we saw being brought to other tables looked equally appetizing). I would say this is a fun spot for a favorite dish, but if you’re looking for a wide selection or large plates, then you would be better off going elsewhere. If you’re a coffee fan though, it’s worth noting that the coffee bar was a walk-up counter and several customers cam and got to-go drinks. Their coffee menu had some unusual choices. Besides the aforementioned malted mocha there was also a white mocha, thai coffee, cubano, and all the regular espresso favorites.

The second new food experience I had this week involved food trucks. Since it was the weekend, the workweek line-up of trucks downtown wasn’t an option, so we sought out a different location. We discovered that a few food trucks were gathered by Fulton Brewery.

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The brewery seems to have a relationship with the food trucks, and beer-seeking visitors can bring their food inside to the bar. The food truck options were:

  • Lulu’s Street Food: serving tacos and fries
  • Cafe Racer: serving Latin American food
  • MidNordEmpanadaTruck: serving, you guessed it, empanadas

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Our primary business went to Cafe Racer. Noah got the Colombian hot dogs and I ordered the pulled chicken plate with carrot souffle and moduro (fried plantains):

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We also shared an order of chicken empanadas from MidNord:

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I loved my pulled chicken and Latin American side dishes. The empinadas were also very tasty (and came with a delicious lime sauce), but the fried exterior was a little much for me. Since an ill-timed bout of pouring rain began right when we got our food, we enjoyed our lunches inside the walls of the brewery.

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The brewery offers tours every Saturday at 1, 2, and 3pm. Although we didn’t join a tour group this time around, we speculated that it could be a fun activity in the future. The brewery was especially full of Twins fans who were watching the game on TV (and possibly heading to the stadium later).

My first food truck experience definitely piqued my interest, and I would like to head downtown for lunch during the workweek to check out a more extensive selection of food trucks. If you’re interested in the Minneapolis Food Truck scene, make sure to check out Reviews on Wheels, another WordPress blog devoted to exactly that topic!

 

Art-a-Whirl

Art-a-Whirl is an annual studio tour event that takes place in Northeast Minneapolis. The event is in its 18th year, and it’s the largest open studio tour in the country.

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Not knowing much about the event besides that you could look at art, I decided to check it out with a friend. There was a huge variety of art and exhibits! There were the things you might expect like pottery:

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wood carvings:

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photos:

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and paintings:

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But there were also a lot of nontraditional forms of art. Like these crazy stuffed monsters:

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and this monkey chair:

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and this awesome lego exhibit:

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Art was displayed in studios, galleries, restaurants, and businesses. Almost all of the art was for sale, and it would be a great place to get a gift! I bought a pair of earrings that were packaged with a nice quote:

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My favorite piece of art was an interactive exhibit about people who did crimes they got away with.

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The exhibit was a display of the remnants from a literary party held in the space a few weeks prior. At the event, partygoers listened to recorded stories of people talking about crimes they committed and got away with. Later, they shared and recorded their own crimes. At the exhibit, I could listen to the original stories, the stories of the partygoes, and see pictures scattered around the floor from the event. There was a notebook where viewers of the exhibit could write their own confessions.

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The stories were really interesting – ranging across everything from stealing money to lying to a teacher to attempted prostitution. It was fascinating and forced the viewer to consider the fact that we are all – in some way – criminals. If so, what is the real distinction between us and what we consider more traditional criminals?

While exploring Art-a-Whirl, a caffeinated pick-me-up sounded good, so we decided to check out Diamonds Coffee Shoppe.

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Although likely due in part to the art festival, the line out the door indicated this is a popular spot in the Northeast neighborhood.

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They had a surprisingly extensive menu of soups, salads, sandwiches, and appetizers. As well as a nice looking array of baked goods:

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They had traditional coffee drinks as well as smoothies (which, I noticed, were made with real fruit!) and loose leaf tea.

I decided to try something different and got a blended iced latte:

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Oh my goodness. It was SO GOOD. My friend got a blended iced mocha and said it was the best thing he’d ever tasted (disclaimer: he is a bit prone to hyperbole).

If this were in my neighborhood, I would definitely go there at least quasi-regularly. Alas, it is not – but I would recommend it to anyone near Northeast, and I will enjoy it vicariously through you!

Girls Night and Dogwood Coffee

Girls’ nights are the best. The absolute best. I am so lucky that I have wonderful female friends who I can hole up with on a weekend night and do things like paint our toenails:

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And make friendship bracelets:

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Yesss. In other news….

We also ventured to Dogwood Coffee. Dogwood is located in Calhoun Square in Uptown. It’s set up in the lobby area just inside the entrance on Hennepin.

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They have a simple menu of coffee, teas, and specialty drinks:

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And a small seating area with some funky art:

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Dogwood places a lot of importance on building relationships with the people/producers/groups that source their products. They have coffee that comes from Burundi, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Indonesia, and Colombia. Not being coffee drinkers, we got a hot chocolate:

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Dogwood is definitely a cute coffee stop, but it’s pretty pricey for an everyday joe. I got tea here once a few months ago. They brewed it loose leaf – which is probably higher quality – but I would have preferred to just have a tea bag so I could refill the cup with hot water later. I don’t love paying nearly $3 for a cup of tea – especially if I can’t reuse the bag!

While at Dogwood, I learned about the first annual Minneapolis coffee crawl that just began:

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From the poster, I gather that you can purchase a $15 coffee crawl card that will earn you discounts at all participating locations for two weeks. Seems like a neat idea! If I were a frequent coffee drinker I would definitely consider buying one since this seems like a fun community event. Alas, I am not a coffee drinker, so I’ll put my money towards other events. 🙂

Final Vermont Moments

To recap, my trip to Vermont was full of wonderful food, skiing, maple syrup and cheese, and treacherous hiking adventures.

Here are a few other moments….

Exploring downtown Barre:

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Enjoying a hot chocolate and maple latte at Espresso Bueno:

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Visiting the Vermont Historical Society‘s Civil War Exhibit:

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Learning about Barre’s granite history:

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Taking silly pictures:

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Looking at wood sculptures:

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Cooking food:

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That’s my trip in a nutshell!

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FUN

                                              +

LOVE

LOVE

                             = a happy vacation

(and I ❤ Vermont)

Our Great Capital

I am in Washington DC! I am here for a conference Sunday-Tuesday, but I came early to visit with some of my wonderful friends. Any trip to the airport requires a trip to an airport Starbucks. I got a vanilla spice frappe and a veggie tray.

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The ‘spice’ added a little extra zing to the frappe flavor, but I wasn’t in love with it. Maybe I should have stuck with my usually favorite flavor of CHOCOLATE! I got the veggie tray for a plane snack. Most expensive veggie tray ever. $5 for a few vegetables! They sure make being healthy expensive. 😦 Boarding went smoothly and I arrived in DC just on schedule.

Right away I headed to the metro and waiting for me right there on the red line platform at Gallery Place was my wonderful besty for life:

the happy reunion!

the happy reunion!

We are so excited!! Not long after that, the fun continued at the wonderful apartment of these two great men:

I love my friends! We were all SO EXCITED to be together, so the obvious thing to do was go out for dinner and talk for hours. We went to Jake’s American Grill in the Friendship Heights area.

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Jake’s had a pretty standard American food menu: burgers, sandwiches, fries. Cameron’s sriracha burger was probably the most unique thing on the menu. I ordered the french dip with sweet potato fries:

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The sandwich was okay, and I would assess the restaurant as solidly mediocre. Afterwards, we walked across the street by this very DC-esque bookstore:

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We also needed a stop at CVS to meet the various medical needs of our group:

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I can’t say the metamucil has really kicked in yet….but I will persevere. Here’s my spread of vitamins for the morning:

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I am ready to feel better now!

After our CVS excursion, we went to Comet’s for some ping-pong.

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Comet’s is a pizza restaurant/bar/ping-pong place. This was A LOT of fun. Also, my team won ping-pong. Nbd. 🙂 To finish the night off, I acquired my own plastic DC metro card:

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I’m hardly even a tourist anymore! It is so great to be here with my friends, laughing, catching up, and having an incredible weekend. Stay tuned for more of our adventures!

Isle Bun and Coffee

I will admit, I occasionally suffer from cravings. Sometimes I crave chocolate. Or milkshakes. Or self serve frozen yogurt. Once in a while I crave something healthy like an apple (let’s be real…maybe that happened once). This week I had a craving for a cinnamon roll. A warm, doughy, covered in frosting cinnamon roll. It is well respected word-on-the-street that if you’re in Minneapolis with a cinnamon roll craving there is only one location you should consider: Isle Bun and Coffee at 28th and Hennepin in Uptown.

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I’ve heard that their coffee drinks are good, but I can’t imagine how any individual could go here and not get some sort of cinnamon bun. As soon as you near the storefront, the smell begins to overtake you, and when you walk inside the small indoor seating area, all attention must immediately be paid to the display case.

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There are regular cinnamon buns, carmel sticky buns (exact same dough as cinnamon rolls but with a little carmel on top), carmel pecan buns, and puppy dog tails (a small version of the cinnamon buns). Of course, the puppy dog tail is the most reasonable portion of cinnamon roll – but why would I do that when I could do this?!

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The carmel sticky bun is definitely the way to go because you can still help your self to delicious cream cheese from the unlimited frosting bin:

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Seriously good thing I only get cinnamon bun cravings approximately twice a year, right? This thing was about the size of my head, so I wasn’t able to finish…

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…maybe I should have gotten the puppy dog tail after all. In the end, I recalled why my cinnamon bun cravings are so infrequent in the first place; I don’t really love them that much. I guess I’ll just need to wait another six months until I forget and get another one.