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. 🙂

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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.


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.


Black Bean Burgers and Good Eats

Summer seems to demand that I am constantly eating good food. Let’s be honest…all the time demands that I eat good food. But, for some reason, the summer seems to call out with rooftop happy hours, live music, and extravagant dinners.

I’m not complaining.

A couple food highlights from last week include a trip to one of my favorite Minneapolis restaurants, Broder’s Pasta Bar.


This time around I had pappardelle with steak, sundried tomatoes, and asparagus:


plus a few bites of a caprese salad appetizer:


I also visited Toby Keith’s I Love this Bar and Grill in St. Louis Park in the West End. This bar/restaurant is the premiere country music joint in the Twin Cities area, with live music almost every night. Here’s a picture of the stage (the band wasn’t out yet when we got there):


The bar is in the shape of a guitar and has no drink menu but offers pretty much everything you can think of:

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Can’t go wrong with mozz sticks:


Even though there’s been a lot of good food out and about, the real food highlights of the summer have been right in my own kitchen. This week, I made up a recipe for some black bean patties, and it turned out so well!

Recipe makes 8 black bean patties – full recipe below

First, combine 3 teaspoons minced garlic and two medium carrots in a food processor:

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Add in the contents of a 25oz. can of black beans (rinse the beans in a colander first):


In a separate bowl, mix together 2 eggs, 1 tablespoon cumin, and 1 tablespoon chili powder:


Pour into the food processor with the bean mixture and process:

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Add between 1/2 – 3/4 cup of whole wheat bread crumbs (however much until the dough is formable), and then shape into 8 patties on a baking sheet:


Cook at 400° for 11 minutes on each side.

Black Bean Patties, recipe makes 8 patties
- 25oz. can black beans
- 2 medium carrots
- 3 teaspoons minced garlic
- 2 eggs
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1/2-3/4 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
Combine garlic, carrots, and beans in a food processor and combine.
Separately, combine eggs, cumin, and chili powder. Add to processor. 
Add 1/2 of bread crumbs and combine. If mixture is still too wet, gradually add up to another 1/4 cup.
Form mixture into 8 patties and place on a baking sheet. 
Cook at 400° for 11 minutes on each side.

Aquatennial 2013

The Aquatennial is a 10-day annual festival in Minneapolis. It’s a civic celebration of the city. What is a civic celebration? As far as I can tell, it’s basically a celebration of anything and everything the city has to offer: museums, arts, outdoors, etc. The celebration includes everything from sandcastle-building competitions to 5ks to smoothie sampling events. The official kick-off of the event is the Torchlight Parade – a two hour extravaganza along Hennepin Avenue downtown.

Noah and I went to check out the fun. The parade started at 8:30pm when it was still light outside:


There were a lot of city floats with various ‘royalty.’ Several organizations, bands, and civic groups also made an appearance:

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I don’t have a picture, but Mayor Rybak was there and I saw him get funky with it with a staff member from Total Entertainment. The parade really started to  pick up once it got dark and a fire truck came through spewing flames:


We saw the MN Roller Girls and Snoopy:

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Minneapolis got one-stream recycling over the past year – woohoo!


If I were a MN princess, I would want to live on this float:


Overall, the parade was really fun and it was awesome to see so many people out on the streets in support of a Minneapolis celebration.

Besides the parade, we went to one other Aquatennial-related event. The Bakken Museum – a museum all about electricity! – offered free admission on one of the days, focusing particularly on the connection between art and science.IMG_2088 IMG_2087 IMG_2085

The museum is located right by Lake Calhoun, and it seemed like a great family destination (but we weren’t too old to enjoy it!).


The museum is located within a beautiful old house:

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And almost all of the exhibits are interactive. Look at these kissing dogs – drawn together through magnetism.


As part of the aquatennial, there were a few special activities that linked art with science. Like this battery-powered Scribblebot:


oooh. aaah.

Even though I only participated in two Aquatennial events this year, it could definitely keep you busy for the full ten days. It’s a great community event, and definitely a symbol of how Minneapolis cares about the civic life of its citizens. But, you don’t need to convince me – the Minneapple already has my heart. 🙂

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:


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. 🙂

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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:


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. 🙂

Summer Smiles

The summer is barely underway, but I’m fortunate to be off to a great start. Some highlights include…

finding robin’s eggs outside my office:


a spring roll party with friends (take two, see take one here):

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an impromtu photo shoot:

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plenty of my favorite foods. in this case, falafel:

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and happy hour around Uptown:

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What are the best things from your summer so far?

Good things all at once

Have you noticed that often good things come in sets? Maybe it’s the inertia of the universe, but things are on the up right now, and I mean really on the up. Tonight, for example, three great things happened in quick succession.

First, pedicures at Darrin James:


Second, a stop at Whole Foods for dinner from the hot bar:

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Did anyone notice that I wore my pedicure slip-ons into the store?



Third, flowers!!!!!

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You may think my above usage of five exclamation marks is a bit excessive. But really it’s not. Because that’s how excited I was to receive this package. 🙂

In other news…I recently returned from a trip visiting my family in Laramie, WY (more on that coming soon). After being at home a couple days, I already feel nostalgic for the ease of being at my parent’s house. No overflowing fridge and pantry? No doting adults eager to do whatever you want all day? No complete and utter lack of responsibilities? At home, even our dogs get magazines:


Now, I’m back in the independent world. But I can’t complain. It’s summer, there’s watermelon, and – like I said – good things come all at once.

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