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Food Recipes Things I Really Like Winter

Baked Reuben Dip

January 21, 2018
Baked Reuben Dip

I’ve been making this Baked Reuben Dip for ever. I got the original recipe from my ex brother in law some 25 years ago. Originally the recipe called for sliced Buddig roast beef, and it was fine. However, I have found that using roast beef from the deli makes for a much better dip.

The original recipe, at least as I learned it, was for the Crock Pot, one of those mini ones. And again, it’s great, but it takes forever and keeping it warm for hours at a time makes a nasty mess. Baking it in the oven creates a better dip that is more appealing.

This is one of those recipes that has an awful lot of wiggle room. It has three main ingredients – cheese, meat and sauerkraut – in equal parts that can be adjusted based on how much you need. In my house my son wolfs it down before anyone else can get to it so I usually make a lot.

I’m using weight as a measurement but you can use volume too. This would translate to about a cup of each ingredient.

Baked Reuben Dip

Baked Reuben Dip

8 oz roast beef – sliced and chopped

8 oz Swiss cheese – grated

8 oz sauerkraut – drained and chopped

1/4 – 1/2 cup Thousand Island dressing

In a mixing bowl mix together all ingredients. Use more or less of the Thousand Island dressing depending on how “dippy” you want it to be. Place in oven safe casserole dish and bake in a 350°F oven for 35 minutes or until bubbly and beautiful.

Serve with Gardetto’s rye chips or those little pumpernickel breads you see in the bakery section of your grocery store. I prefer the rye chips because they’re the perfect size, but Ritz crackers or melba toast works well too. 

If you have any leftovers it can be used for making Reuben Balls or simple spread on a toasted baguette for a quick and simple Reuben sandwich. 

Enjoy

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#SKOL

January 15, 2018
#skol

Skol!

That was a helluva game last night. It looked like a typical Minnesota Vikings end of season. They held a 17 point lead agains the Saints for most of the game and then they didn’t. There were seconds left on the clock, no way they could win, but they did.

I don’t need to recap the game, you probably saw it when it happened and if you didn’t, you’ve seen it a hundred times by now.

I’m not even a sports fan, let alone a football fan, but it was…. amazing. 

It’s difficult not to get swept up in the excitement, but we’ve been here before, many times, and … sigh…. we know how this is likely to end. And we know better. And yet…

This season, and especially last night’s win, reminds me of when I am stuck on a level in Candy Crush. I’m not going to purchase any boosters and some of the levels are simply unwinnable without boosters. Eventually the game realizes you aren’t going to pony up any cash and lets you win because who knows, you might in the next really level. 

According to Berg’s Fourth Law of Media/Sports Inversion – A Minnesota sports team may be a contender until the moment the local media actually believes they will be contenders. At that moment – be it spring training, late November in the NFL season, or week 72 of the NHL playoffs – the season will fall irredeemably apart.

It goes for more than just the media, when the folks start believing, I mean REALLY believing, that’s when it will inevitably fall apart.

We’re a group of people who thrive on the negative, as explained here in Howard Mohr’s How to Talk Minnesotan: The Power of the Negative

Certainly, we’ve been doing this since before the Vikings joined the NFL as an expansion team in 1960, but it has served us through the incredible, heartbreaking, frustration and excruciating losses we’ve witnessed in the last 58 years.

I gave up on the Vikings, like I usually do, in the preseason when they lost to the Seahawks. In fact, I declared I was going to make the Seahawks my team going forward. I did this – not because I am a Seahawks fan, but because I was doing my part to ensure the Vikings started winning.

I watched two games in the regular season, both times they lost. In fact, I remember hoping they would lose. Again, doing my part to help them win. When I stopped watching, they started winning. I haven’t seen a game since and even last night’s game I didn’t actually watch until I though they were going to lose and then it was my job, as a Minnesotan, to endure the loss – live.

I have a friend who is not a Minnesotan, he’s from Florida of all places, but has made his home here for several decades. As the Vikes racked up more and more wins he started speculating about the Vikings in the Superbowl, numerous times. Each time I had to remind him that he was going to jinx the whole thing if he didn’t knock it off. I think he thought I was joking, I was not. I’m hoping the fact he is a Floridian will appease the football gods, but for all I know we’re going all the way to lose because someone, who isn’t from here, speculated too soon in the season.

Like all Minnesotans, and some people from Wisconsin, I’ve been let down by the Minnesota Vikings for as long as I can remember. And I do remember. I remember exactly where I was when they lost in ’74, ’75 and ’77. I was roller skating (because there’s not much else for a pre-teen to do in MN in the winter months. I take that back, there is, but we didn’t ski either) and the disappointment was palpable when they lost the Superbowl each time.

I do not come from a sportsminded family. My father would have sooner have bathed the dog after being sprayed by a skunk than take my brother and me to a football game, or any sports game for that matter. I do not understand football terminology or know anything about offense or defense. I just know that the Vikings will make it to the very precipice and then lose in such spectacular fashion – sort of like the Saints lost last night – and once again crush our dreams.

That the Superbowl is in Minnesota just makes it even worse. 

Of course, the reality is that this is just too good to be true. They shouldn’t have won last night, it just isn’t what they do. I really don’t know what I am supposed to do for the next week. I’m in unchartered territory and it terrifies me. 

I won’t say it, but there is a part of me that is beginning to believe that this might be our Candy Crush.

Of course it won’t be, the Vikings will lose next Sunday, and all will be right with the world.

 

Blogging Food Recipes Things I Really Like Winter

Instant Pot Pea Soup with Lentils in 9 minutes

January 11, 2018
Instant Pot Pea Soup with Lentils in 9 minutes

Here’s another quick and easy recipe for your new pressure cooker – Instant Pot Pea Soup with Lentils in 9 minutes. Yep, 9 minutes to make a hearty, protein rich soup that would normally take an hour or so on the stove top.

Nothing brings back warm memories than pea soup. Growing up we had this for dinner at least once a month during the winter months. In Minnesota that’s half the year. My brother and I hated pea soup – probably because of the name and the way it looked. It wasn’t until I was in my 20s that I actually started liking it. It was probably no surprise that I liked it at that point because I am a better cook than my mother.

I make pea soup every year after Christmas. I usually have so much ham leftover I can also make my Instant Pot Ham and Wild Rice Soup (I really need to get an additional Instant Pot for that much leftovers. 

If you didn’t get an Instant Pot for Christmas you can get one here, this is the one I have – Instant Pot DUO60 6 Qt 7-in-1 Multi-Use Programmable Pressure Cooker – but they’re all great. It’s so much more than a pressure cooker. It is also a slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer, sauté, yogurt maker and warmer. I’m pretty sure it can walk the dog.

This Instant Pot Pea Soup with Lentils in 9 minutes recipe is super simple, super easy, and super forgiving. If you don’t like some of the ingredients, just eliminate them or put something else in. 

Instant Pot Pea Soup with Lentils in 9 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag split peas rinsed – any color
  • 1 bag lentils rinsed
  • 1 onion
  • 4 stalks celery
  • 4 carrots
  • 4 cups diced ham
  • 8 cups water
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Tobasco or Melinda’s Hot Pepper Sauce to taste (Optional)
  • Sour Cream for garnish

Putting it all together:

I start with a mirepoix (diced veggies – usually carrots, onions and celery) and toss it in the Instant Pot and hit the sauté setting for about 3-4 minutes. I just want to sweat the veggies a little. 

mirepoix

Rinse peas and lentils until the water runs clear. I never used to do this, I figured it had been rinsed at the plant, but I’ve found it makes a superior soup if you rinse the dried peas.  From there I throw in both bags of peas and lentils and pour in the water and secure the cover.

Use the manual setting and set for 9 minutes on high pressure. Make sure the pressure valve is in the closed position. It takes my instant pot 15 mintues or so to pressurize and seal and then start cooking. 

(Apparently, I forgot to take anymore pictures of the process…duh)

Do a slow release of pressure – basically don’t open the valve. When it’s depressurized open the lid and stir your soup. 

This is when I add the diced ham. I used to just throw it all in the pot and cook the hell out of the ham and that was a mistake. The ham has been cooked so all you need to do is warm it up. And it will warm up enough in the hot soup. 

Serve in bowls and top with a dollop of sour cream. Don’t skip the sour cream, it adds an amazing flavor to the soup and makes it even creamier. 

Instant Pot Pea Soup with Lentils in 9 minutes

Tips:

After the soup has cooled enough I usually freeze 2/3rds of it in individual servings. I freeze them in Ziploc bags because they’re easy to store in the Freezer but you can use plastic containers too. Whatever works. 

My daughter does not like pea soup so it usually takes me a year to finish this huge batch. Be sure to mark your container with the name and date. I play hard and fast with sell by dates and use by dates, but you’ll still want to know what it is and when you froze it. 

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When the Bough Breaks

January 11, 2018
when the bough breaks

Rock-a-bye baby, on the treetop,
When the wind blows, the cradle will rock,
When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall,
And down will come baby, cradle and all.

Rock-a-bye baby, on the treetop

Who the hell puts their baby, along with the cradle, in a fucking tree?

They don’t. It’s a metaphor. For mother (or father, primary caregiver – just so I don’t offend anyone reading this who isn’t a mother, but who is the primary caregiver – hey, we’re all, metaphorically, in this together, right?).

Did you see what I just did there?  I just fucking apologized to someone who might or might not be offended that I assumed the nursery rhyme was about mom and not dad. 

That’s how overwhelmed I am.

When the wind blows, the cradle will rock

I am breaking. 

I am a single mom, I am always in a state of overwhelm, but lately I have not been able to get any respite.

Between trying to chase down an IEP for my daughter who was recently diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD and Anxiety; fighting my ex husband in court, via text message and through his porn-star named attorney (I am sure she is nice and probably a decent attorney, but she really should consider changing her name); and work full time… I just don’t have any energy left.

My house is a shambles. I have laundry in the washing machine (not the dryer, but the washing machine) from before Christmas, and there’s some weird shit growing in my fridge. 

I cannot keep all the balls in the air right now.

When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall

I know I am not the only single mom who doesn’t have any support. In fact, it is so common we should form a club and make t-shirts. The problem is, we’re all too overwhelmed to meet up.

I suspect that’s a big part of what is wrong with society right now. Aside from the explosion in single people raising little people, we’re also really disconnected. Sure, we communicate with one another on social media, but that’s usually just so we can flaunt our moral superiority. It rarely is about lifting anyone up or offering sincere support – though I am sure it happens, it doesn’t happen enough. 

We’re disconnected from family. At least I am. There was a wedding in my extended family not too long ago. I’d been hearing about the preparation for the last year so I knew it was coming up and expected to be invited. I was not. I was informed “we really didn’t think you’d want to go.” How considerate. No, I’d never want to connect with family I haven’t seen in a few years. I really enjoy not going out and seeing people. I much prefer to stay home. Of course, god knows I have plenty to do at home (see above) so maybe it really was a blessing that I wasn’t invited. I’m not even sure I would have wanted, but I am sure I would have liked to be invited. 

And down will come baby, cradle and all

I’ll get over this, I will get my footing back and I will get my shit together. I will get the IEP, I will get the school to accomodate my daughter and I will manage the next four years of dealing with the ex somehow. I do. I always do. And, I’ll do it alone.

Actually, I am not alone, I do have support, it just comes from the oddest and most unexpected places. My first ex husband’s wife has been wonderful. She always has been. I recently connected with a high school classmate, through Facebook, and he helped fix my leaky drain. He was most gracious, happy to help. It was not like it was some horrible chore to him (like it was when I used to ask my brother for help) and that was wonderfully refreshing and fucking weird at the same time. 

There is no point to this, I just needed to vent. So, thanks for listening.

Dumb Shit I Do Food Minnesota Recipes Things I Really Like Winter

Instant Pot Ham and Wild Rice Soup

January 3, 2018
Instant Pot Ham and Wild Rice Soup

Happy New Year! This year I’m starting off with an Instant Pot ham a wild rice soup recipe. I make all kinds of soups during the holidays. Usually because there are so many leftovers from the holiday meals, but also because it’s so damn cold. Currently it’s about -14°. That’s Minnesota, and that’s why we make things like Tater Tot Hot Dish. It’s also probably why we drink.

Anyway, Ham and Wild Rice Soup is a staple around the holidays. As any good Minnesotan knows, the best ham and wild rice soup comes from Byerly’s and this recipe relies heavily on their recipe which you can find here. I love this soup so hard, but it’s got a lot more salt than I can tolerate so I have made some adjustments to the original. I use a ton more onion, no chicken brother (because I didn’t look at the recipe when I made it, and didn’t have any), and possibly more sherry than it calls for. It’s a forgiving recipe that can easily be tailored to your tastes. 

Here is my altered version of this recipe with instructions for the Instant Pot:

Instant Pot Ham and Wild Rice Soup

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons flour

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/2 chopped carrots

1/2 cup diced celery

3 cups wild rice prepared (I used leftover wild rice from Christmas dinner, it had water chestnuts and mushrooms in it which I think added some lovely flavor and texture)

2 cups chopped ham

A couple of handfuls of slivered almonds

1 cup half and half

1/2 cup (ish) dry sherry

Water

Putting it all together:

Make a mirepoix with the onions, celery and carrots using the sauté setting on the Instant Pot. Don’t let them brown, you just want to bring out the flavor of each ingredient. 

mirepoix

Add the ham, wild rice and enough water to cover the ingredients. 

instantpot ham wild rice soup recipe

Set the Instant Pot on manual high pressure for 5 minutes and let cook.

Do a quick pressure release and when safe to open add your almonds, flour, half and half and sherry. I simply mixed the flour with the half and half but you could mix it with the sherry too or mix all of them together. You may need to add additional water or if you prefer chicken broth.

Cook using the sauté setting until the soup has thickened to your liking. 

Ham and wild rice soup

That’s it! Serve with the leftover rolls and you’ve got a scrumptious meal for these fridgid days.

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Tater Tot Hot Dish with Mushroom Risotto

January 10, 2017
Tater Tot Hot Dish with Mushroom Risotto

This recipe, Tater Tot Hot Dish with Mushroom Risotto, is a variation of the Authentic Minnesota Tater Tot Hot Dish. Like all great flukes it happened because I didn’t read the recipe carefully and ended up with way too much liquid so I had to find a way to make it less soggy. I had a bag of Alessi Risotto with Mushrooms so I quickly cooked it up and added it to the mixture. 

You’ll notice I said mixture. Oops. Another mistake. I mixed all of the ingredients instead of layering them. 

Even though I am an authentic Minnesotan, I did not grow up on Tater Tot Hot Dish. I did date a guy whose mom made it (and he raved about) but that was as close to it as I got until I made it last year.

OMG it is delicious! And it’s perfect for cold weather. I have not tried it in the InstantPot because I just don’t think the Tater Tots would do well in it. They really need to get crisped up in the oven.

You can see the original recipe here.

Tater Tot Hot Dish with Mushroom Risotto

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1 lb ground beef, browned

2 can Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup

2 can vegetables (I used corn and peas because I didn’t have two cans of either one of them)

1 packaged prepared Alessi risotto with mushrooms, or any packaged rice with mushrooms

While the oven is preheating, brown the ground beef (seasoning to taste as you cook) and drain off the grease.

In a mixing bowl combine soup, ground beef, drained vegetables and risotto. Mix well. Place mixture in baking dish or casserole.

Arrange tater tots on top of mixture.

Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 50 minutes.

Top with your favorite variety of shredded cheese as you serve.

That’s it! This is a great hot dish for a winter day when you have to go out and shovel snow. Goes well with any boxed white wine.

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How to Drive in Snow

January 9, 2017
How to drive in snow

Now more than ever it’s important to learn how to drive in snow. This past weekend a good chunk of the nation received several inches, if not feet, of snow. In fact, 49 of 5o states have been affected by this massive storm. Not every state is covered in snow, but there are many places that don’t normally see snow who are now forced to navigate it. As a Minnesotan, and a blogger, I am happy to share with you my tips for how to drive in snow.

How to Drive in Snow

Go Slow – Whether it’s an inch or a foot of the white stuff it doesn’t matter – traffic is going to grind to a halt. You aren’t going to get there fast so embrace the snow and go slowly. Driving in snow isn’t that difficult, it’s the ice underneath it that makes it so challenging and dangerous. Take your time and give the car in front of you plenty of space. 

Stay Back – I’ll say it again, the ice under the snow is the issue. Give the car in front of you plenty of space. If they slam on the brakes and you’re riding their ass guess who’s going to be at fault? You are. You could also be dead or cause their death. Don’t risk it. Stay back and stay alive. Same goes for staying back behind snow plows. 

Brush off your Vehicle – This should go without saying, but people just don’t seem to get this. Don’t just brush off your windshield, brush off the roof of your vehicle as well. There’s nothing more terrifying than driving behind a car or SUV when all of the sudden a sheet of snow and ice flies off the roof of their car and lands on yours. Be courteous and brush off your whole vehicle.

Parking – Don’t block the sidewalk! This should be obvious, if you park in front of the sidewalk you force those who use the sidewalk to walk on the grass or the snow covered grass. My neighbor has lived in Minnesota her whole life and yet she always parks in front of my sidewalk. I don’t get it, but it’s one of those things that infuriates people so don’t do it. Park between the sidewalks that lead to the street. 

Emergency Kit – Be sure to keep a winter emergency kit in your vehicle. This should include a blanket, matches, flares, some extra clothing, hand warmers, granola bars, and a flashlight with fresh batteries. Make sure you have plenty of gas and windshield washer fluid. 

Pedestrians – If you’re walking in snowy conditions please don’t dash out into traffic to cross the street. Yes, this is a thing. In my area pedestrians like to prove that they have the right of way by running out into traffic causing drivers to slam on the brakes if they see them. Sadly, they don’t always see pedestrians soon enough and hit them. Even when they do see the pedestrians, it can be really difficult to stop due to ice and snow on the road – and the fact that most vehicles weigh a lot more than pedestrians. Yes, you have the right of way, but that doesn’t matter that much when you’re dead.

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Ice Castles in Stillwater

January 6, 2017
Ice Castles in Stillwater

One of the greatest thing about being a Minnesota Blogger is that I get invited to some pretty cool events. Last night I was lucky enough to attend a preview of Ice Castles in Stillwater, MN. It was a beautifully clear night out because it was -1°F, the windchill was -24°F. Trust me when I say it was cold. It might not be on your list of things to do in Minnesota – to visit a giant ice sculpture when it’s that cold, but that’s what I did.  

And you should too. 

Ice Castles in Stillwater

Ice Castles in Stillwater

The Ice Castles in Stillwater are made with a combination of hand placed icicles and running water. The people who build these magical ice structures place around 15,000 icicles by hand as they grow the ice around them using running water.

I believe this is the first year Ice Castles has been in Stillwater, MN. It’s been at the Mall of America in Bloomington before and Eden Prairie before this. Stillwater is a great place for Ice Castles. Not only is there ample free parking, but it’s such a picturesque town, something special like Ice Castles fits right in.

Controversy

You’d think something as lovely and beautiful as these ice sculptures wouldn’t have any controversy around them but you’d be wrong. Evidently there are some people who are upset that the ice structures are named Ice Castles, they argue they should be called Ice Stalagmites and Stalactites because of the way they are created. That may be so, but it’s silly to get worked up over something so petty. 

However, Ice Castles are not to be confused with the ice castles created for the St. Paul Winter Carnival. Those structure are build out of blocks of ice, not grown using running water. 

Ice Castles in Stillwater

They’re Beautiful

It doesn’t really matter how Ice Castles was formed, they’re beautiful. I toured the structure at night so the various ice walls and fountains were lit up in a stunning display of blue, red, orange, and green. I would have loved to have stayed longer to really get a good look at the way the ice was formed, it was really cool. It was also really cold and difficult to stay for too long. 

Things to Know

The floor of the Ice Castle is chopped ice/snow. This is not wheelchair or stroller accessible. Walking in the inches deep ice/snow was slightly challenging in big old lunky boots. Pets are not allowed. It is cold inside the structure, it might even be colder than outside – you know, because you’re inside a ice. There might be some science about it one way or the other but at -24°F windchill, it really doesn’t matter. 

Ice Castles in Stillwater

Dress Warm

I wore fleece tights under jeans and my legs still felt as if they had frozen. I wore boots rated to -30° and my feet were just fine. Tennies or any other kind of shoe is not going to be comfortable or easy to navigate through the ice/snow floor. Wear warm boots that have some grip to them. Mittens, hat, ear muffs and a scarf or ski mask to cover your face is completely appropriate. 

Tickets

Buy your tickets online, you’ll save a ton of cash. Click here to purchase tickets. And click here to learn more about the ice structures and how they’re made.

Ice Castles in Stillwater

Make a Day of it

Stillwater is a lovely town. If you plan on visiting Ice Castles make a day of it and have yourself an adventure. There are whimsical shops to visit and some great restaurants all within walking distance of Ice Castles. 

Minnesota Winter

Things to do this January in Minnesota

January 3, 2017
January in Minnesota

If you like the cold, then you probably love these things to do this January in Minnesota. It’s cold, like really cold. Like so cold people who have never lived here really don’t understand how cold it can get. Currently it is 10° F. That’s cold, but it’s going to get even colder.

Thursday it’s forecasted to be -5°F, and being a Minnesota Blogger, I’m scheduled to be outside getting a sneak peak of Ice Castles in Stillwater. Don’t get me wrong, it is a spectacular thing to see with all those stalagmites, or maybe it’s stalactites, of ice inside caves of ice. Whichever it is, it’s a lot of ice. 

cute pit bull dog wrapped in blankets

Anyway, if you like the cold, there’s plenty to do in January in Minnesota. January is the month we hardy folk thumb our nose at Winter and instead of curling up on the couch with a good book and some cocoa, head outside to prove, once again, that we are no wusses.

There is all kinds of merriment, debauchery (as much as a Minnesotan can debauche) and excitement as it becomes time for the St. Paul Winter Carnival once again. But yeah, it’s cold. For those who are determined and can layer properly, there is the great treasure hunt put on by the Pioneer Press. Buy a button, get a subscription to the paper and try your hand at figuring out the clues (Hint: It’s usually in Como Park). 

Looking for other fun winter things to do in the Twin Cities? Then check out all of these great activities.

Things to do this January in Minnesota

Polar Dash
When: January 1st, 2017
Where: Harriet Island Pavilion
St. Paul, MN

Both the 10K and the Half Marathon are chip-timed races on a USATF-certified course that takes runners along the Mississippi River.  See Course Information here.  All runners get their Polar Dash fleece as well as a finisher’s medal.  Click here to see the Great Gear! Once you complete this race we’ll have Hot Chocolate waiting for you at the finish line!

Nordic Holidays: Celebrations of Light
When: Now through January 8th, 2017
Where: American Swedish Institute
2600 Park Avenue
Minneapolis, MN

Nordic Holidays: Celebrations of Light at the American Swedish Institute is an exhibition on display November 12, 2016–January 8, 2017 that annually showcases Nordic and other holiday traditions through decorated rooms in the historic Turnblad Mansion. The rooms are designed by groups from Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Norway to reflect their own distinctive customs. This year, as part of Celebrations of Light, the ASI has partnered with the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas for a space to honor Hanukkah.

Gridiron Glory
When: Now through January 15th, 2017
Where: Minnesota History Center
345 W. Kellogg Blvd.
St. Paul, MN

Celebrate America’s gridiron history with this major traveling exhibit produced by the Pro Football Hall of Fame. See over 200 rare pro football artifacts, photos and more. Thrill to the dynasties, the pioneers and the champions through state-of-the-art audio/visual.

Bruce Munro: Winter Light
When: Now through April 9th, 2017
Where: MN Landscape Arboretum
3675 Arboretum Drive
Chaska, MN

The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum will glow after dark this winter when it hosts the stunning evening exhibition Bruce Munro: Winter Light at the Arboretum from Nov.12 through April 9, 2017.

Munro’s work has been displayed internationally, from the Guggenheim Museum in New York to Waddesdon, Buckinghamshire, UK. He will unveil three new works at the Arboretum exhibition, which is his 12th in the U.S. and the most Northern U.S. show, which is currently being installed on the Arboretum grounds.

St. Paul Winter Carnival
When: January 26th – February5th, 2017
Where: Various locations in St. Paul

Join us for the 131st Saint Paul Winter Carnival, the “Coolest Celebration on Earth™” since 1886! It continues to bring family-friendly events and community pride to Saint Paul and the Twin Cities metro area. The Saint Paul Heritage and Festival Foundation manages and produces the Saint Paul Winter Carnival.

Ice Castles Stillwater
When: January
Where: Lowell Park
201 Water Street N.
Stillwater, MN

Imagine a magical collision of the Apostle Island ice caves, frozen waterfalls, and glaciers — formed into towering organic archways, tunnels, and more!

Crashed Ice St. Paul
When: February 3rd – 5th, 2017
Where: Cathedral of St. Paul
239 Selby Avenue
St. Paul, MN

For the past three freezing-cold winters, Saint Paul has hosted the ice cross downhill competition, with a huge crowd of more than 100,000 people converging under the gaze of the imposing Cathedral of Saint Paul to witness the high-speed action that features skaters competing in four-man heats in a race to the bottom of a long ice track full of obstacles. The sport appeals to what Americans like most in sports – a physically challenging, rough, tough sport coupled with high-speed action and agility. Americans have done surprisingly well as neophytes in their first few years in the 15-year-old sport, despite having far less experience than established nations like Canada, Finland, Germany, Switzerland, and the Czech Republic.

The Great Northern
When: January 26th – February 5th, 2017
Where: Various Twin Cities Locations

Minneapolis and Saint Paul’s premier winter events have joined forces to celebrate the best of the season together. The Great Northern is here to showcase The North at its wintry best.

Includes the St. Paul Winter Carnival, Pond Hockey Championships and Loppet Ski Festival.

US Pond Hockey Championships
When: January 26th – 29th, 2017
Where: Lake Nokomis
Minneapolis, MN

The 12th annual Labatt Blue U.S. Pond Hockey Championships (USPHC) will once again bring hockey the way nature intended it to Lake Nokomis, Minneapolis, MN, January 26-29. The event brings thousands of players and fans together for an incredible weekend of fun and fierce competition.

Events Minnesota Things I Really Like Winter

Family Friendly Things to do in the Twin Cities this December

December 5, 2016
Family friendly things to do in the Twin Cities this December

If you’re looking for family friendly things to do in the Twin Cities this December look no further than all these great events taking place this month. There’s really something for the whole family to enjoy this December. Head on down to the Landmark Center in Downtown St. Paul and get your skate on at the Wells Fargo WinterSkate arena. If you’d rather take a less physical approach to the season then put on some warm clothes and head out to the Holidazzle taking place now through December 23rd.

It’s a busy month with family and friends, parties and commitments, and let’s not forget shopping, just be sure to take some time to enjoy all that this wonderful season has to offer.

Family Friendly Things to do in the Twin Cities this December

Holidazzle
When: Now through December 23rd
Where: Loring Park
Minneapolis, MN

As downtown Minneapolis’ premier holiday celebration, Holidazzle has delighted residents, visitors and downtown employees for years. Now, in 2016, this tradition is bringing family-friendly programming to Loring Park completely free.

Rice Park Powered by Xcel Energy
When: Now through December 23rd
Where: Rice Park
St. Paul, MN

Make downtown Saint Paul your family holiday destination and enjoy the beauty of Rice Park as it sparkles with thousands of twinkling lights! The festive tree will be up through January 1, 2017. The other lights will stay up and illuminate the park through the end of the Winter Carnival.

Wells Fargo WinterSkate
When: Now through February 5th
Where: Landmark Cetner
St. Paul, MN

Skaters are invited to experience the unique urban setting of downtown Saint Paul. Located in the heart of the city, Wells Fargo WinterSkate creates a fun, winter experience for visitors of all ages. The historic Landmark Center creates a beautiful backdrop for the outdoor rink, showcasing Saint Paul’s charming European architecture and old-world ambiance.

Christmas at FlyOver America
When: Now through January 2nd
Where: Nickelodeon Universe at Mall of America
60 E. Broadway
Bloomington, MN

FlyOver America will transform into a magical winter wonderland this holiday season. Guests will have fun helping Santa search for his missing elves during an exhilarating flight across America and onto the North Pole.

St. Paul European Christmas Market
When: December 1st – 4th, December 8th – 11th, 2016
Where: Union Depot
240 E. Kellogg Blvd
St. Paul, MN

The European Christmas Market in St. Paul is based on the traditional, charming, and festive open air Christkindlmarkts that spring up in Germany, Austria and other countries during the Advent season. Shop for unique, handmade holiday gifts and decorations from local vendors, drink Glühwein (spiced mulled wine), and taste European inspired food and delicacies during the first two weekends in December.

Black Nativity
When: December 1st – 23rd, 2016
Where: Penumbra Theatre
270 N. Kent St.
St. Paul, MN

This is a timeless holiday tradition treasured across the Twin Cities! Today, kids who grew up with Black Nativity are returning with their own families. Under the direction of Lou Bellamy and the musical direction of Sanford Moore, our homegrown Christmas show returns featuring exceptional lead vocalists, the outstanding Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church Choir, and the stirring choreography of Uri Sands of TU Dance. Join us for an experience full of joy, community, and spirit.

Summit Avenue Artisan Festival
When: December 3rd, 3026
Where: St. Paul’s United Church of Christ
900 Summit Avenue
St. Paul, MN

Join St. Paul’s United Church of Christ as we celebrate the season with our community. We are a proud Saint Paul Grand Meander event! Shop handcrafted jewelry, pottery, food items and more from our 30 local artisans. Take a photo with St. Nicholas! Enjoy a cup of Fair Trade coffee or tea and specialty Christmas items at our bake sale!

Grand Meander
When: December 3rd, 2016
Where: Grand Avenue
St. Paul, MN

Grand Meander is a St. Paul tradition that captures the charm of historic Grand Avenue and the cozy communal spirit of the holidays! Pick out your Christmas tree, have breakfast with Santa, hear carolers meander from store to store, and hop on a classic trolley and ride the 20-block length of Grand Avenue.

Minnesota Zoo Santa Saturdays
When: December 3rd, 10th, 17th
Where: Minnesota Zoo
13000 Zoo Boulevard
Apple Valley, MN

December is a great time to visit the Minnesota Zoo. If you’re looking for that perfect holiday photo, bring your family and camera to the Zoo on Saturday, December 3, 10, and 17 and meet Santa. He’ll be available for photos from 11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Cirque Dreams Holidaze
When: December 9th – 11th, 2016
Where: Northrup at the University of Minnesota
84 Church Street SE
Minneapolis, MN

Cirque Dreams lights up the 2016 holiday season with its critically acclaimed holiday stage extravaganza, Cirque Dreams Holidaze, a new cirque show, Broadway musical, and family Christmas spectacular all in one! Hailed by The New York Daily News as a “delicious confection of charm, sparkle and talent by the sleighload & so full of energy it could end our dependence on oil!”

Winter Solstice Celebration
When: December 18th, 2016
Where: Lake Hiawatha Recreation Center
2701 East 44th St.
Minneapolis, MN

Let’s welcome the return of light! Nourish your heart’s longing for renewal by tapping into the seed of potential that begins every year. This contemplative, participatory and embodied evening enters the fertile embrace of darkness as the starting point for new life. Individually and collectively it is an opportunity to shed what diminishes us. The community experience of music, meditation, and movement helps us tap into a deeper experience of connection. We gather on the solstice to remember our interconnection and access a wellspring of life that is ultimately joyful and liberating.

Bruce Munro: Winter Light at the Arboretum
When: Now through December 31st, 2016
Where: Minnesota Landscape Arboretum
3675 Arboretum Drive
Chaska, MN

Winter Light At The Arboretum, the first large-scale light installation at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, will illuminate the winter landscape after dark.  This ticketed exhibit makes its Minnesota premiere with a series of five outdoor and two indoor installations that have inspiration and connection to Munro’s visits to the Arboretum, his imagination and life experience.

Gingerbread Wonderland at Norway House
When: Now through January 8th, 2017
Where: Norway House
913 East Franklin Avenue
Minneapolis, MN

The holiday tradition of gingerbread houses, called pepperkake in Norway, has crossed the sea to Norway House. Create a special piece to display – a local Twin Cities landmark or inspired structure – or just come to admire, as dozens of creations are on exhibit for this multi-generational, magically festive event. Invite family and friends to join you in baking an exhibit piece, or spark a friendly competition for bragging rights. A winning entry will be selected by professional bakers, and a “People’s Choice” award will honor the structure most admired by attendees. Gingerbread Wonderland also includes special displays from renowned local bakers.

Night Trains
When: Now through February 25th, 2017
Where: Twin City Model Railroad Museum
668 Transfer Road, Suite 8
St. Paul, MN

Night Trains Season comes to museum layouts in a magical way, the lights are turned down, the buildings and street lights glow warmly, setting the scene for specially lighted models of vintage passenger trains. The make believe town of Matlin is buried in a blizzard, and throughout the Museum the layouts are adorned with miniature Christmas lights and decorations.

74 Days of Positivity Dumb Shit I Do Minnesota Nice Things I Really Like Winter Writing

74 Days of Positivity

October 19, 2016
74 Days of Positivity

It’s almost Halloween which means it’s almost winter here in Minnesota so I’ve decided to have 74 days of positivity. If you’re missing the obvious connection, that’s okay. I’ll explain. When the days start to get shorter I start to get this overwhelming urge to hibernate. I don’t necessarily want to sleep, I just don’t want to do anything. I tend to get down. I won’t use the word depressed, because I don’t think that’s what it is. I tend to get negative, especially around the holidays. It seems to set in earlier and earlier each year. By the time How the Grinch Stole Christmas is on TV (usually before Thanksgiving) I’m so sick of all the heart warming bullshit I could just puke.

The holidays tend to suck.

I’m overworked, I’m tired, I’m crabby, etc… Every year I tell myself I’m not going to get all worked up about the holidays, I’m going to delegate some of the work, I’m going to chill the hell out and just enjoy everyone. I tell myself that, right around this time of year, and then as soon as Halloween is over I fall down the rabbit hole and don’t emerge until after Valentine’s Day.

I become more snarky during the holidays, and I’m sick of it.

74 Days of Positivity

I want to enjoy the holidays and all that this beautiful time of year has to offer. I love winter, but I hate the snow. The truth is, I don’t even hate the snow, I hate shoveling the snow.

I can do something about that. I have a child who is able, I can certainly teach her to use the shovel or the snow blower. Sure, I’ll have to endure all kinds of eye rolling, but I’m getting the eye rolling now. May as well make it worth her while. Or mine, as the case may be.

Truth be told, I haven’t fully examined why I hate this time of year so much. It could be that my family is severely fractured. I don’t like it, but I don’t want to fix it either. And, while I think I have let that go, it’s still bothering me so clearly I haven’t. It could be that I’m used to being broke during the holidays. While this has been true in the past, and might be this year too, the reality is I’m doing ok.

I think there are a lot of ghosts of Christmas Pasts that I just assume will make a show even though I have complete control over who shows up and who doesn’t.

It could also be that since I turned 50 I’ve been making a lot of big changes in my life and this is one I need to make.

I’m generally a pretty happy person. Sure, I have my moments and I tend to worry about things that are generally outside of my control, but for the most part I can laugh through much of it. Even if there’s a fair amount of anger underlying my laughter.

I’m tired of being angry. It hasn’t served me very well.

So, for the next 74 days, until the end of the year, I’ll be practicing more positivity.

It could take the form of yoga, going out with the girls (after I meet some girls to hang out with or wrangle the ones I used to hang out with before I isolated myself), it could mean taking time to read instead of doing the same old thing each night of watching TV and hanging out on Facebook.

I’m not really sure how this is going to work, I just know that I’m open to anything that comes along in the next 74 days and plan to look at any and all opportunities as just that – opportunities.

I’m going to actively enjoy life, dammit, instead of just letting it pass me by.

I also expect to piss a few people off while I do this. I’m not sure why, but isn’t that how it always seems? You do something good for yourself and it upsets the applecart?