a mini tour of the mall of america

Last week, on a beautiful day that could have been spent frolicking around a lake or biking across the river or just generally exposing my sun-starved skin to the elements, I needed to go to the Mall of America for work.

It was only for about an hour. But! The combined stress of trying to drive there and park during lunchtime and while construction is happening (to make the mall even bigger!) and just the general ickyness of the Mall of America on a weekend afternoon compared to the general delight of a Minneapolis summer weekend is reason to be dramatic. Ask anyone.

After I whined about this for a good 15 minutes, I decided to make lemonade out of lemons and a)return a bathing suit to J. Crew (I don’t think one pieces are for me), b) finally get an army green jacket so I can truly call myself a blogger and c) bring my camera so I could take my faithful readers on a mini-tour of, as its called here, The Mall. Capital “T”, capital “M”.

In our last few months in Shreveport, I wrote a post about the mall there; a mall that should probably hand out anti-depressants as you walk in. I think the fact that my most convenient mall is now the Mall of America is a classic case of be careful what you wish for. 

In case you weren’t aware, there’s an amusement park in the middle of the Mall of America. It features a giant ferris wheel (with a terrifying giant Dora), a roller coaster that goes upside down, and some giant swinging contraption that looks like it’s going to crash through the glass ceiling and never fails to give me a slight heart attack. Also in the Mall of America: a mini-golf course, an aquarium, a comedy club, a movie theatre, and a wedding chapel.

And, obviously, a store devoted to Peeps.  

Not sure why they didn’t stop in Lacoste. 

You know how mall maps usually take up one side of one of these things? This map takes up three sides. 

Not everything about The Mall is terrible: 

 in the winter, you can pretty much walk a 5k without passing anything twice (there are signs marking your mileage) || On a Saturday morning at 10 am, I can park, run in and out of 5 stores and be on my way in 30 minutes. It’s all about timing. || Each store somehow manages to maintain a personality and its own smell, despite being crammed in with a million other stores. I noticed this when visiting Madewell and Free People, which are right next door to each other but feel like different planets. I think that’s kind of cool, slow clap store designers. || there must be a noise ordinance, because the volume at Urban Outfitters is low enough that I don’t have to leave within 3 minutes || the Forever 21 has a Classy Lady section where inseams are FOUR inches as opposed to TWO inches and there is nary a crop top to be seen 

in a polar vortex

In a polar vortex, your urine looks like this:

Just kidding. That’s a jar of homemade bubbles. Because in a polar vortex, bubbles look like this:

During the first polar vortex (we’re currently in Polar Vortex 2: Back in the Habit) I declared that we needed to go somewhere warm and green. The Como Zoo in St. Paul hosts a winter concert series called Music Under Glass, and it’s the perfect escape from winter: warm and humid (the good kind of humid. Not Louisiana humid.) and full of life. We walked through the gardens and listened to acoustic covers of pop songs.

And then we ran as fast as we could to the car because it felt like -40 degrees.

The restaurant we chose for dinner, The Mill NE, didn’t exactly have the cozy vibe warranted for such extreme temperatures, but it was delicious nonetheless. I loved my butternut squash bisque and cocktail made with pear cider, vodka, and dandelion bitters which, by the way, are an actual thing.

The roads were empty. The concert was empty. The restaurant was empty. And I was kind of proud of us for not letting the weather win.

What to do when it’s -20 degrees in Minneapolis

What is there to even do when it’s so cold outside? (part 1)

I haven’t experienced the soul crushing cabin fever that everyone warned me would hit come February. (Honestly, I feel more of a cabin fever in July in Louisiana, when I’ve been sitting next to an air conditioning vent for 2 months straight, watching my freckles and frizz multiply.) Despite it being really, really ridiculously cold, there is still so much to do — inside and out.

Like eat soup.

The Midtown Global Market is in a diverse area of town, where supermercados and Halal markets checkerboard the streets, and an old Sears building sat empty (HOW CREEPY DOES THAT SOUND? Sears is creepy even when it’s not vacant) from 1995 until 2005. Then, some genius turned it into a mixed use building with apartments, office space,and a DMV — and added the indoor market as a place for recent immigrants to the neighborhood to start a business and live the American dream. 

The clincher was hiring a great designer. Now all of us boring, non-ethnic people who like a trendy space can feel good about ourselves for supporting local entrepreneurs. 

There’s even a fresh produce market and live music.

And, randomly, a James Beard Award-nominated pastry chef’s bakery. Not that I’m complaining.

 So one snowy day (which probably wasn’t actually -20 degrees because I don’t think it can snow when it’s that cold), I saw on Twitter that the Global Market was holding a Global Soup Cookoff featuring a soup from each stand at the market. I was obviously in.

After taking the tour de soup, we voted for our favorite: a chicken saffron soup from Safari Express (which is where you need to go if you’ve ever wanted to try a camel burger… which, don’t lie, you totally have.)

They won. But then, I’ve always known I have good taste in soup. 

living near the airport

Our house was pretty affordable, and there’s one really good reason for that:

The planes.

As the planes take off over my backyard, I can easily tell you which airline it is. Y, being some kind of transportation savant, could tell you whether it’s a 747, 737, or CR80 by the number of windows or something.

I don’t hate the planes.

I mean, there’s a part of me that hates being on a plane. That’s the part of me that refuses to watch a TV show featuring a plane crash (so I guess I’m okay with This is 40 for ruininng the ending of of Lost for me).

That’s also the part of me that once bought a book to read on a plane, then tweeted the author to make sure there were no plane crashes in the book. She said no. THEN THERE WAS AN ENTIRE CHAPTER ABOUT WATCHING 911 UNFOLD FROM MANHATTAN.


I don’t hate the planes. Because a bigger part of me loves what happens before and after air travel. The anticipation. The packing (I may be the only person on earth that loves to pack). The airport (I know I’m the only human on earth that loves airports). Arriving in a completely different state, country, continent. Having an excuse to buy a new book and eat overpriced fast food.

The planes constantly flying over my neighborhood remind me that I’m literally minutes from an adventure.

(We also got free updated insulation and triple paned windows out of the deal, so that doesn’t suck.)

what is there to do in Minneapolis?

See the title of the post? What is there to do in Minneapolis? I was asked that question several times before we moved, and it always sounded more like this:

What is there to do in Minneapolis?

I was asked this mainly by people who lived in the mid size cities in Louisiana in which I had lived. Places where we found ways to have fun, but that certainly weren’t considered hot spots of activity. I found it an odd question to ask — although I didn’t know a lot about Minneapolis, I knew there was a major airport and a baseball team; common knowledge that seemed like hallmarks of a place where there would be Things To Do.

I know these people read my blog from time to time, and it occurred to me recently that the blog might still leave them scratching their heads about what, exactly, there is to do here besides, well, blog.

Surprisingly, there are things to do in a city that has 4 professional sports teams and the biggest theater scene outside of New York City, has 2 major art museums and is constantly getting mentioned in magazines for its music scene, travel appeal and up and coming restaurants.

I’m not getting defensive (I don’t think you’re allowed to be defensive of a place you’ve only lived for seven months), our move just really clued me in to some Louisianians’ ignorance of any state outside of the Louisiana-Texas-Mississippi (and maybe New York or California) spectrum.

FOR EXAMPLE: A conversation I had with someone at work in Shreveport:

Him: Where are you moving?
Me: Minneapolis
Him: Ohhh, the Twin Cities! Too bad Payton Manning just left.
Me: Huh?
Him: He’s a football player.
Me: THANKS. I am aware of the Mannings. What does he have to do with Minneapolis?
Him: He doesn’t play for the Colts anymore.
Me: The Colts are in Indianapolis.
Him: I know, I thought you were moving to Minnesota.
Me: I AM moving to Minnesota.
Him: Minneapolis and Indianapolis. The Twin Cities! Why don’t you understand?
Me: Why don’t YOU understand?!?!

I digress.

As part of my attempt to tell you more about what there is to do here, I’m going to share my 2013 Minneapolis resolutions with you.

1. Take a stand up paddle board class — my excuse last summer was that they were all too early. Now I’m used to waking up on a resident’s schedule, so… bring it on!
2. Picnic at the lake
3. Go to a music festival. Last year I missed The Lumineers, Feist, The Avett Brothers, Fitz and the Tantrums, etc, etc. NOT THIS YEAR.
4. Progressive bike dinner — meaning biking to different restaurants for drinks, appetizers, entrees, and dessert
5. See a play — I just so happen to have tickets to see Book of Mormon next month!

6. Go to all 4 professional sporting events — Twins Baseball, Vikings Football, Wild Hockey, and TImberwolves Basketball
7. Bike the chain of lakes — we did this last year, but now that it’s  negative 3 zillion degrees outside, I’m not sure why we didn’t do it every weekend.
8. Eat farm pizza — I heard about this interesting experience on the radio. Drive out to a farm in rural Wisconsin, order pizza made with ingredients found within spitting distance, wait an hour and explore the farm, bring your own silverware, eat on a picnic blanket. I’m intrigued.

9. Cross country ski
10. Go apple picking

11. Kayak on the mississippi (even though this slightly terrifies me, what with the waterfalls…)
12. Get lost in a museum — The Walker Art Center (modern art), The Minneapolis Institute of Art, the American Swedish Institute, The Minnesota Science Museum are just a few to choose from.
13. Go on a brewery tour. There are at least 3… not including our guest room, where Y is letting his home brew ferment.
14. Eat on a rooftop patio.
15. Bike to [one of] the farmers markets.
16. Visit the headwaters of the Mississippi & more. One of my friends at work, A, suggested we do this, since I’ve seen the other end of the Mississippi. I told her it was the most romantic thing anyone’s ever invited me to do, akin to Mandy Moore’s boyfriend in A Walk to Remember taking her to the state line so she could stand in two places at once. Then we sang along to Mandy Moore in my office. A made an entire separate list of things I need to do this summer, which I don’t have in front of me, but is encompassed in #16.

Am I missing anything, Minnesota-savvy friends??

Other FAQs coming soon: what is there to do when it’s negative degrees outside; what do you wear when it’s negative degrees outside; what does it feel like when your hair freezes; are you sorry you moved to this frozen tundra (spoiler alert: NO.)

following up

>> As a followup to this post, I heard Eminem on the radio the other day and practically licked the radio.

>> As a followup to this post, there has since been a poop elephant and a poop turkey to accompany the poop whale. Someday I’ll post a collage of our poop menagerie. 

Also, Young House Love put a link to that post on their blog yesterday, making the story of the poop whale my most viewed post ever. This traffic surge knocked this out of the top spot, a post in which I mentioned Kristin Chenowith. It’s not a particularly special post, it just gets hits when people search for Kristin Chenowith feet. People are… interesting. & thanks to YHL for the shout out! 
>> As a followup to this post, the other day, my cashier at Trader Joe’s cheerily sang “OOOOOKIE DOKIE” to the tune of “HAAAALLLELUJAH!”

>> As a followup to this post, my rectum is still amazing.

pinterest in real life + Young House Love

A few weeks ago I posted some pictures of real fall, meant to show you what’s going on behind the scenes as your favorite bloggers frolic through apple orchards and make out with their pumpkin spice lattes. 

Today, along those lines, I want to show you Pinterest in real life.

Ever since some genius crafter discovered that – gasp – dry erase markers work on glass, Pinterest has been full of pinners posting their dry erase frame creations.

I decided to jump on the bandwagon, putting a frame in our bathroom (on those shelves that I fought so hard for).

Brushing our teeth is usually the last thing each of us does in the morning before work, so it would be perfect for the love notes we were dying to leave each other as we parted ways.

Or  helpful reminders-

Not that I would ever have the foresight to package up leftovers for Y’s lunch.  But that’s the thing about Pinterest – it’s supposed to make you perfect. 

But, readers, my husband is not John Petersik*. So instead of love notes, this is what I got:

*John Petersik: co-blogger of Young House Love who seems to be open to any and all DIY projects and doesn’t incorporate voyeuristic whales into home decor. 

Edited to add: I actually met John and Sherry, the couple behind Young House Love last night at West Elm for their book signing. 

I’ll share more later — they are as friendly and real as their blog suggests — but I thought this little story was relevant. You see, this exact project (sort of) happens to be in the YHL book. I showed John and Sherry Y’s whale, which they, of course, loved (how could you not?! Look at that face!). 

And then, because I was at the back of the line and I think everyone in the store was a little delirious, John wrote this in my book:

My copy of this book is going to be worth millions one day.