Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN

The Walker has a “free first Saturday” which is a great deal because one adult ticket is $12.  Oh, interesting current update. I went to their website to make sure it’s actually $12 and they’re having free admission until February 7.  Come in from the cold and see some art, says their site.  We might have to go back soon!

I didn’t see a whole lot of art that I liked on this visit but it was still fun to go and look. Plus, we stopped in at the new bar/cafe/bistro Esker Grove and had a yummy snack that I forgot to take a picture of.  Duh. We both had a beer and our snack was hummus toast and then we called it a day.  The Walker changes their displays frequently so it’s always fun to go back and see what’s on display every so often. Check out the Walker’s website for more information.  Please enjoy some photos from our visit earlier this month.

 

 

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Muffuletta, St. Paul, Minnesota

I have wanted to try this restaurant for many years.  The biggest thing it had against it is the parking.  I thought that the only place to park was on the street but I recently discovered there is a parking lot behind it, thanks to my employee.  When going west on Como Avenue, turn left onto Carter Avenue, the parking lot is on the left. We did that our first trip and it worked great. We got there at 11:30 just before the lunch rush begins.

We’ve been there for lunch twice now and the trips were about three weeks apart.  Hubby enjoyed it so much the first time he wanted to take me to lunch on another day that he had off.  We sat in a cute and small corner booth the first time we went there and that added to the charm for our initial visit. Both times they served us a free appetizer consisting of a garlic puree along with a bread basket.  YUM!!! The food is great here!

On our first visit I had the beet salad which looks small but it turned out to be just the right portion.  Hubby had a ham and cheese sandwich but the cheese was on the outside of the sandwich? He had to eat it with a fork but he said it was delicious.  The second visit I had their three course meal.  You can see most of the menu from my photo below.  It was great too but I didn’t have room for dessert so took it home with me. And hubby had the Muffuletta described thusly on their website:  Smoked pit ham, Italian meats, pepper-jack and provolone cheese, olive relish, sesame bun.  Except it looks like ciabatta bread and not a sesame bun. Either way, he loved it!!

The staff is very friendly and quick.  I recommend this restaurant highly. Come have a look see at the photos I took of the restaurant and our food.   We both loved this place so much, we will definitely go back.

Here’s a little ditty from their website:

Winter at Muffuletta
Let our heartiest cooking sustain you on these cold, dark days. Now is the time to crack a bottle of red, rediscover our classic beer-cheese soup, and cast your eye to our daily specials, beckoning with winter stews, roasted root vegetables and Minnesota game.
Located in Milton Square
2260 Como Avenue
St. Paul, MN
Reservations 651-644-9116

 

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Weekly Photo Challenge – Ambience

This photo came up in my alternating wallpaper on this computer and immediately I thought of the photo challenge.  The quiet, peaceful ambience of a street near the Picasso Museum in Barcelona.  In the early morning hours before the hustle and bustle that is surely about to take place.  Enjoy.  Click here to see other entries in this challenge.

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The last day of the original Bell Museum, U of MN, Minneapolis

Ever since hubby talked to a U of MN employee at the fair last summer about the Bell Museum, we have been planning to go before they closed on December 31, 2016.  A couple of times our plan was foiled by the weather, but New Year’s Eve day was our very last chance and we made it!!  To say I was impressed is an understatement.  I had no idea there was this gem of a museum at the University of Minnesota.

Before you get into the building the antiquity of the place hits you.  The front doors look to be original to the nearly 145 year old structure.  The James Ford Bell Museum of Natural History opened on March 1, 1872 after the Minnesota legislature approved this:

“An Act to provide for a geological and natural history survey of the state…” and in turn, that “natural history and geological specimens be prepared, and a museum to be established at the university.”

You can read a little more about the museum at this link  although I’ll warn you that I’ve tried to play their video about the history of the museum twice and it’s not there.

There are two floors with the world famous  3D dioramas that depict scenes of typical animals in Minnesota. They are so realistic and in looking at the photos, they look like portraits but those are life-size imitations of real animals.  There is a mezzanine that displays other exhibits but we skipped it that day.  There is an auditorium on the lower level and a room with items you can touch, the Touch and See Discovery Room.  And I was surprised to see a Rainforest Gallery with live plants and trees.

I had no idea there was so much in this museum and I’m so glad we finally got there.  Hubby actually had been there as a child so it was fun for him to relive some of his younger days.  He said it looked exactly the same too.  The new museum will be on the St. Paul campus, where I work, and is scheduled to open in 2018.  One day I happened upon the construction webcam.  It’s fun to watch the time lapse movie.

Below are some of my favorite photos from our visit:

 

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My 2016 in photos

As in past years I’ve compiled a review of my year in the photos below.  I hope you enjoy.

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San Francisco in less than two hours!

Sounds crazy, doesn’t it?  Well, I lived it!  And it was the most fun four people could have in less than two hours.  This was the same weekend of my brother’s wedding in northern California.  Our flight home wasn’t until Monday evening so we had several hours to play with.  One thing we absolutely had to do was eat at an In ‘N Out Burger.  More on that shortly.

We got to San Francisco about noon and parked near Ghirardelli Square and that was a must for my niece and what a fun place that is!!  So many different types of chocolates.  You could choose from already arranged items or you could build your own with samplers. You pay by the pound and your bag is weighed at the register.  We stopped in a card/book/post card shop as well and found a few treasures then headed off to Fisherman’s Wharf. We looked around about 10 minutes, took some photos then headed back to the car because by this time we were all getting hungry.  The line at the In ‘N Out at the wharf was way too long so we got into our rental van and went in search of another one.  My niece and her husband worked together with their GPS and soon we were (almost) pulling into the lot of another In ‘N Out.  Oh, except that there was nowhere to park!! I noticed the line was out the door.  Wow these places are popular!  We ended up at one that was about 5 minutes from the airport.  Perfect, then we could take our time.  We had to park in the back 40 because, again, there were lots of people wanting an In ‘N Out burger! This time our timing was perfect.  When we got inside there was nobody in line!!  But as we sat and ate our food I noticed the line eventually going out the door again. Wow.  Check out my photos:

I’ll close with a photo of San Francisco from the plane. It’s not the best photo but it tells the tale:

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Benziger Family Winery, Glen Ellen, CA

While in northern California for my brother’s wedding over Labor Day Weekend we had the wonderful opportunity to visit the Benziger Family Winery.  And here’s the winery’s site but I should mention that I had to key in my birthday before I could view their site. Benziger winery is only a 30 minute drive from where my brother lived and we managed to get on the last tour of the day.  We arrived in time for the penultimate tour, alas, there weren’t enough spots on the tram so we had about a 30 minute wait.  While the rest of our group waited near the tram stop, my sister, my niece and I headed down the hill for wine tasting! So. Much. Fun!!!!

Our tram took us through the vineyards and stopped at particular places giving us wonderful views of the countryside and to give us more information about the Benziger vineyard and how wine is produced.

The tour guide talked about the use of biodynamic farming at the winery and we stopped at an example of this where native plants are used.  Here’s more information on biodynamics from wikipedia:

Biodynamics has much in common with other organic approaches – it emphasizes the use of manures and composts and excludes the use of artificial chemicals on soil and plants. Methods unique to the biodynamic approach include its treatment of animals, crops, and soil as a single system; an emphasis from its beginnings on local production and distribution systems; its use of traditional and development of new local breeds and varieties.

We saw holding tanks and finally the caves where the wine is stored in mostly oak barrels.  This was my second favorite thing from that day, the first being the wine tasting.  I wish I could reproduce the fantastic aroma once you step inside the caves.  Imagine being surrounded by the smell of old oak.  It was divine!!

It was a gorgeous day full of sun and warmth and family.  It’s a day I will never forget.  If you’re in northern California do take the time to visit a winery, I was so glad I had this opportunity.  If I’m in the area again I’m definitely going to go the Benziger winery.

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