Soak up the sun

Minneapolis has had a gorgeous summer. There were a few sweltering days in July, but overall the weather has been extremely pleasant – warm enough to enjoy being outside, but not so warm to get that sticky feeling. Given the sunshine, enjoying outdoor activities has been a major highlight of the summer. A few events of note…

the Ordway’s summer dance series

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The Ordway Theater in St. Paul offers free music and dancing on Thursday nights during the summer at Rice Park (right in downtown St Paul). Different weeks have different themes: salsa, polka, swing, etc. We went on swing night. I should take some dance lessons to learn how I’m actually supposed to move my feet, but with a wine+music combination, I think I did alright. ๐Ÿ™‚

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the patio at Vincent A Restaurant

Like 112, Vincent A was also listed in the recent edition of Mpls St Paul Magazine as having one of the best burgers in town.

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Vincent A is right in the heart of downtown at 11th and Nicollet, and it has great happy hour timing: 4:30-6pm and again from 8:30-9:30pm. A lot of late happy hours don’t even start until 9:30 at most of the places in Uptown. The 8:30 start time was perfect for a late dinner featuring….

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and since it was happy hour after all…

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These burgers were no doubt delicious, but I’m still more partial to 112.

Obviously.

Kosama

A few weekends ago I participated in the Minneapolis City Solve race. One of the stops was at Kosama, a group fitness facility that offers a variety of classes. Since I’m always interested in trying new fitness experiences (especially free ones!), I decided to take advantage of a free introductory class at Kosama.

Kosama has an intriguing structure to their classes. Each day they offer either kettlebells:

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Kickboxing:

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TRX:

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Or Kosama Strong, which is a combination of kettlebells, TRX, and plyometrics.

These class offerings are consistent throughout the week (e.g., Mondays are Kettlebells, Tuesdays are Kickboxing, etc.), and each month has a specific set of exercises done for each workout. At the beginning of each month the set of exercises are changed. So, the kettlebell workout for January is different from the kettlebell workout for February. The idea is that your body won’t be able to adapt and plateau because you are changing the specific exercises every 4 weeks.

I decided to try a Kosama strong class to get a taste of everything (besides kickboxing…I’ve never become a big fan). The inside of the studio was clean and spacious, and the staff were incredibly friendly. A major downside is that there are no real locker rooms though. There are only a couple single-person bathrooms that have a shower inside:

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The class I attended was small (only 6 people), so it wasn’t an issue after class when I needed to change, but I imagine in larger classes it would be inconvenient to need to wait for a space to change/shower.

The class itself included a warm-up, cool-down, and about 15 minutes each of kettlebells, TRX, and plyometrics. Exercises are done for about 45-60 seconds each and then you move on to the next one. Exercises are never repeated.

I enjoyed the fast pace and trying new things (especially TRX which I had never used before!). During and immediately after class I didn’t feel too tired, but later in the day my arms felt sore which made me think I had used some muscles I don’t generally get to in my typical weight lifting.

Overall, Kosama was fun to try, but I’m definitely not planning on shelling out another $100/month or so to join. I don’t think I get enough added benefit to my own workouts – plus the location is not too convenient (it’s downtown and I’m uptown). Still, if you’re looking for motivation and a personalized approach, I think this might pay off more than hiring a personal trainer at the gym since the class moves so quickly and you never stop moving.

Do you know of any other unique fitness experiences to try around the Twin Cities or in general?

 

Summertime Things and the Lyndale Tap House

Summer brings sunshine and biking and….

1. Cold Brew Iced Tea

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How did I not know this existed before?! As an avid tea drinker, this is the perfect was to enjoy tea even in the heat of summer. Since I’m not willing to devote the time to brew a big batch, I put on of these bags in my water bottle, fill with cold water, and enjoy!

2. Spotify!

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Okay, so I did know this existed, but I didn’t have an account until recently. Well, technically, I still don’t have an account, but I am able to use my brother’s. Added bonus: slightly hilarious when his facebook feed says he has been listening to today’s top country artists and teen pop boy bands.

3. Summer clothes

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These are two examples of ridiculous summer outfits (the on the right was in a children’s clothes store?!?! Mark my words, no 4-year-old daughter of mine will be wearing shirts advertising her identity as a pin-up), but you get the point. Summer = shorts and skirts and tanks and happiness.

4. Trying new things

As you can probably tell from this blog, I love trying new things around Minneapolis all the time. But for some reason, the summer feels like an especially appropriate time to be out and about, going new places and seeing all the hidden gems of this beloved city. Recently, I checked out The Shout House downtown for the first time.

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The Shout House is a dueling pianos bar, which basically means there are two piano players alternating playing/singing hits from the 50’s through today.

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Songs are chosen through requests from the audience (your request is more likely to get played if you leave a tip), and people in the bar are encouraged to sing along. It was a TON of fun and I definitely want to go back!

In other news…I also tried the Lyndale Tap House recently.

I don’t think the food was anything to write home about, but I wanted to share it on here for anyone who’s interested in going! Lyndale Tap House is known for their burgers and pit beef. Appropriately, Noah ordered the Pit Burger which came with a burger AND pit beef:

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I ordered the beef chili and an appetizer of pretzel sticks:

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The pretzel sticks were definitely the best dish – they came with mustard and cheese sauce. Like I said, nothing to write home about. If you’re a big burger or pit beef fan you might enjoy sampling how the Tap House does it, but I think there are too many superior restaurants around to go here again.

Secret City

This post is way overdue…as are many of my Minneapolis summertime fun posts…but I suppose my excuse is that I am far too busy doing more fun things around the city to blog about the things I’ve already done. Nonetheless, here’s a post about Secret City. Secret City is a free festival of art and performance that takes place each summer in Minneapolis. Featuring various displays of art, dance, and installations around downtown Minneapolis, the Midtown Greenway, and the Minneapolis Convention Center, this is a large-scale community event with plenty of entertainment for every art taste.

We started our exploration of Secret City at the Basilica of St Mary where we watched some Aztec dancers:

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Secret City was super bike-friendly, and there was a special lane for bikes blocked off along Hennepin downtown so bikers could travel safely from place to place:

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The next performance we watched was a dance called The BodyCartography Project. The dance was performed in the I-94 underpass parking lot….very West Side Story of them. ๐Ÿ™‚

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I will admit I am not exactly clear what the message of the dance was, but I would say it had something to do with how people move – either individually or within a group – as part of a city’s landscape. It was interesting and there was a decent sized crowd watching.

Moving on…we headed to the Convention Center to check out the plaza’s new centerpiece: MIMMI:

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MIMMI is a pressurized sculpture suspended in the Convention Center Plaza. The really neat thing about sculpture though is that its color is determined by the emotions of Minneapolis residents! Emotive information is gathered in real time through tweets directed at MIMMI as well as detected movement in the plaza. The real question though…what do the colors mean? We tried to figure out how MIMMI was feeling based on the colors shown in the picture above, but we didn’t have any great breakthroughs.

Since no Minneapolis event is complete without a few food trucks, there was a quick break at AZ Canteen for their signature AZ Canteen dog:

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We took the Midtown Greenway home to check out some of the festivities fair. Highlights included karaoke, lots of music (both live and from speakers), and a s’mores station set up on a bike!

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Overall, this was a great community event, totally making my infatuation with Minneapolis grow. How great to live in a city that hosts this sort of free event for its citizens? Major bonus points for the festival’s emphasis on bike culture. ๐Ÿ™‚

Keys Cafe Bakery

If you are ever in downtown Minneapolis for breakfast/brunch, there are really only two options as far as I’m concerned: Hell’s Kitchen and Keys Cafe Bakery at the Foshay. Keys, like Hell’s, serves breakfast lunch and dinner but, also like Hell’s, really shines with their breakfast menu.

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Keys has more standard fare than Hill’s, but there are still a few unique items on the menu (blueberry bran pancakes anyone?). The regular items – omelettes, scrambles, pancakes, eggs benedict, etc. – are all served freshly and deliciously with large servings and they taste just. plain. good.

When you walk in the door, you are greeted by a display case of oversize and delicious looking desserts, a la Cafe Latte.

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cookies!

Deciding what to get for breakfast was tough since so many things looked good, but we had an eclectic sampling at our table. First off, fresh squeezed orange juice and coffee:

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I ordered a fruit plate that came with cottage cheese, homemade wheat toast, and homemade strawberry jam:

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Other family members got a buckwheat pancake with granola (the granola was cooked into the pancake):

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Cinnamon bread french toast:

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And huevos rancheros which came with eggs, refried beans, salsa, American fries (small diced breakfast potatoes), and two enormous flour tortillas:

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Holy yum! Everything was great. While there, I also perused their lunch and dinner menu and thought those looked appealing as well. Plus, if I were there for lunch or dinner maybe I could get one of the desserts. ๐Ÿ™‚