There are people who are next-level hosts, who delight in having loads of people over for themed parties with impressive spreads of food and build-your-own cocktail bars. Then there are people like me—introverts with small houses and zero aptitude for creating classy place settings. This is where the low-key cheese party comes in.
We timed our trip to Seattle exactly right: mid-July 2021, post-vaccine but before the delta variant's spread. Crowds and indoor dining didn't concern us, and it was perfectly acceptable to wander around unmasked in Pike Place Market eating cherries. Two months later, I'm already nostalgic about it.
This is my ninth annual summer roundup post, and a couple of months ago, I thought it would be easy to write—a straightforward essay about my triumphant return to normalcy, including a trip to Ireland...
I go to the Minnesota State Fair for many reasons: nostalgia, the live entertainment, the livestock, the educational exhibits, the display cases full of prizewinning knitwear. But mostly, it's about the food.
Despite its proximity to Seattle, Bainbridge Island has a low-key feel, with a small downtown neighborhood and plenty of green space. It's a great place to relax and decompress, and our visit to Bainbridge Island was one of the best parts of our trip to Seattle.
When I first subscribed to a CSA, I tried to track down a recipe for every type of produce we got in our share. However, the produce in my CSA share doesn't always exactly line up with a recipe—maybe I only have one zucchini instead of three, or twice as many green beans as the recipe calls for. That's where CSA meal templates come in.
On our recent trip to Seattle, waiting in line at the original Starbucks location was not high on my to-do list. But we did want to do some sort of Starbucks-related tourism, and Seattle happens to be home to one of the world's six Starbucks Reserve Roastery locations.
It's a classic travel conundrum: you have a late afternoon or evening flight, but you need to check out of your hotel several hours beforehand. You'd love to squeeze in some extra vacation time instead of heading to the airport, but how are you going to do that with a suitcase in tow?
Mike and I spend our weekends running in opposite directions (literally in my case: seven miles on Saturday and three miles on Sunday). After one too many weekends when the only significant chunk of time we spent together was grocery shopping, we realized that we needed to prioritize time with each other. So we instituted a standing coffee date on Sunday mornings.
Suburbs have a reputation for soulless dining, home to nothing but mediocre chain restaurants and fast food outlets. In some cases, that's true—but increasingly, you can find unique local establishments and upscale options in the suburbs. My favorite Twin Cities suburb for dining is Anoka, which is located northwest of Minneapolis.
So much fear and pain and grief and tension had built up in my body over the past year, and I needed to find some way, as best as I could, to let it go. Most people would turn to therapy, or maybe religion. I went to a salt cave.
When I moved to the Twin Cities, a scoop of raspberry chocolate chip ice cream was what convinced me to stick around. Since then, I've become an ice cream connoisseur, scouting out the best frozen treats in Minneapolis, St. Paul, and the suburbs. If I'm going to treat myself, it has to be the good stuff: premium, housemade ice cream with natural ingredients and interesting flavors.
It's impossible to miss—a stately white house on a hill overlooking Highway 169 in Anoka, Minnesota. Built in 1857, the house is now home to The Mad Hatter, a full-service restaurant that offers a brunch menu and tea service. Since Mike and I developed a fondness for afternoon tea during our stay in London, we've treated ourselves tea at the Mad Hatter a few times over the years.
Over the years, Mike and I have made more trips to Stillwater, Minnesota than any other destination. It's the sort of place where you can spend a satisfying few hours or an entire weekend. The hilly terrain, views of the St. Croix River, historic downtown, and Victorian-era homes make it feel a world away from our life in the suburbs—but it's less than a 45 minute drive from our home in the Twin Cities metro.
Patio season has arrived in the Twin Cities—in part thanks to the warmest spring weather I've ever experienced in Minnesota, and in part due to necessity. Although COVID-19 vaccines are gradually becoming available to the general public, the pandemic rages on. For many diners (myself included) indoor dining seems too risky, and outdoor dining feels like a safer option.
When I bit into a piece of butter mochi I made for myself at home, it was good in the way that this particular dessert is—sweet, buttery, a hint of coconut, the unique texture that I love. But mostly, my homemade butter mochi was good because it reminded me of warm, humid days, and a giant banyan tree, and piles of technicolor tropical fruit, and ocean views, and the specific sort of joy I only feel when I'm experiencing a someplace new.
For me and Mike, Easter is all about the candy. I love Peeps (the chicks, preferably yellow, never the bunnies). I used to try all of the different novelty Peeps flavors and review them, but in recent...
Last November, I posted a list of my escapist pop culture recommendations—between the election and an upswing in COVID cases I was desperately in need of some lighthearted escapism, and I wanted to share some of my favorite finds. Over the past months, I've discovered some new shows and podcasts, and I think most of us are still in need of some escapism.