I don’t usually share very personal stories or events on here. I thought that this would be a good time to share with all my followers something that is important to me.
A few years ago my partner and I decided that we would wait to get married until it was legal in Minnesota for the LGBT community to marry as well. This is not something that we share with everyone or really anyone. In fact, at the last wedding I was at I was asked by a handful of people why my partner and I have not married yet. It is a common question since we have been dating over 6 years now. We say that we are just not ready yet.
While that is true, we are waiting until those of our friends who are gay are able to get be married as well. How thankful we are that we even get to choose when it is we want to marry. We discussed that it did not feel right to us to be married, while others do not get to make that choice.
To us marriage is a legal document that allows us specific inclusions under the law. Even though we are not married yet, does not mean we have a different relationship from other married couples. Like many of our LGBT friends, family members, coworkers, and neighbors we have a committed relationship. Us, like many other committed unmarried couples are already living the, “until death do us part.” We believe that our relationship is no different from that of two men or two women; we are all entitled to the equal protection under the law.
When we finally do choose to get married we want to be able to have a celebration that we can invite all of our friends and family members to share the special day with us. It will be a day that reaffirms our relationship and creates a support system of people who share in the love that I have with my partner.
We also will then have the opportunity to use all of the protections that marriage gives us under the law.
It doesn’t seem right for us to invite our friends who do not get to make this choice to come and celebrate. They are not able to have the same protections that our marriage will have.
My hope is… that very soon this will change. Yesterday showed me that it is close. Soon my partner and I will not have to think about this as part of our decision to get married. Undoubtably, the discussion will then center around cost.
Even with this monumental change. It will not change the mind of everyone.
I know there are still opponents to gay marriage and people who are not supportive of LGBT people. They say because of their religious beliefs that they cannot support it. Well, until it is your child, your grandchild, your cousin, your best friend, your neighbor, your co-worker, your aunt, or your parent I doubt you will change your mind. But, when that does happen it is how you choose to react that will define you. Don’t look back and regret how you have treated another human being.
because it is time
Anything Goes is a feel good musical and the perfect way to start out springtime here in Minnesota.
This is the musical that never goes out of style. Anything Goes debuted in 1934 and has been entertaining people ever since.This is a family friendly show about love. You will hear familiar songs, such as, “I Get a Kick Out of You” and “It’s De-lovely.”
Roundabout Theater Company does not disappoint with their take on this fun musical. They hit all the right notes by keeping the audience laughing. Everyone around me could not keep themselves contained during “The Gypsy in Me.”
I appreciated that the entire show was perfectly choreographed and that each and every member of the cast was a triple threat. The tap and ballroom dance numbers were a joy to watch.
If you are in the mood to see something light-hearted, visit St. Paul for Anything Goes from May 7-12th at The Ordway. Tickets start at just $26 including fees.
Because it’s easy to love
Day two started with a leisurely breakfast in my room. The nice part about staying at the Ocean Club is that they have full kitchens. I sat on the patio and enjoyed the perfect weather when eating my toast with guava jelly.
It is important when you plan a vacation to Turks and Caicos to not over schedule yourself. It is nice to be able to do whatever you feel like on that particular day. I only did two planned activities and had three restaurant reservations and thought it was the perfect amount for a 7 day vacation. If you are going during Spring Break you may want to make more restaurant reservations since it gets very busy on the island.
I then set off to get some booze for the week. I headed to the Wine Cellar which is by the IGA on the highway and looks like a castle. They are open from 9am-6pm and not on Sundays. I leave Minnesota and still can’t buy liquor on Sundays.
I choose Turks Head Lager a local beer made on the island and white wine. The Turks Head was $41.99 for a case and the wine was comparable to what it costs me in Minneapolis. It felt amazing to be able to sit in a lounge chair, drink a beer, and read a book.
Most of my day was spent at the beach on a floatie. You can get them at Target for $4.00 before you go and I highly recommend it.
Remember to put on sun screen and a lot of it, reapply every so often.
I was enjoying the beach so much that I ate a late lunch at the Cabana Bar again. I had the ocean burger which is a fish sandwich slathered with a great tartar sauce. The Cabana Bar is a very relaxing place to lunch and the drinks and service are great.
The service I had was great and the drinks are good as well.
That night I planned a sailing trip with Sun Charters. Before the trip, we ran into some Potcakes which are the local dogs on Turks and Caicos. They are called Potcakes because they were fed the caked on food that was leftover from the cooking pot. You can adopt a Potcake or help by donating or being a courier. There is also the Potcake Place located in the Saltmills shopping area where you can get more information.
After playing with the potcakes, I set out on the sunset cruise. It was relaxing and a great way to meet other people staying on the island. Junior kept the rum punch flowing and we sailed down Grace Bay beach and back. I would highly recommend going sailing with Sun Charters.
Sun Charters would be a perfect boat to book for a sea bound wedding or for a family get together. I have heard that both weddings and family reunions are popular on the island due to the fact that there are many large rental properties. The owner of Sun Charters was very nice and seemed like he would be willing to accommodate a customizeable charter.
It was past dinner time but I was hungry and headed to The Upstairs which is in a little shopping mall near the main part of Grace Bay. I had a delicious dinner and met Kenny who grows “tomatoes” and you know other things that grow in the ground. The service was excellent and the food was good. I tried the jerk chicken pizza and wrap.
I would highly recommend The Upstairs during the first part of your stay. The portions are large and make great leftovers.
If you are used to sleeping in the city. You will sleep like a baby when you are here.
because keep the rum punch flowing.
Over the next week I will be writing about my latest vacation to Turks and Caicos. This was the first out of country, seven-day, tropical vacation for me. Now, I see why people flock to beaches during the long winter months in Minnesota. I guess I could say long Spring months now, since it is snowing in MAY!
Turks and Caicos is located in the Caribbean close to Cuba. I chose Turks and Caicos because it was a less touristy place than Mexico or Jamaica. Also, I wanted to be able to explore the island and eat at many different places versus an all-inclusive type vacation.
Most of the research for this vacation was done on Trip Advisor. I do have to say that most of the reviews were accurate and the suggestions from the destination experts were very helpful. I read the travel forum for Providenciales or Provo as the locals call it, the specific island I stayed on. I also used the Provo Bums website often http://www.provobums.com/html/links.html for links to local businesses.
You will have to make reservations for certain restaurants and excursions before you go. Many restaurants and businesses will not take reservations by email. Be prepared to make a few phone calls to Turks and Caicos before your trip.
Also, many places do not take American Express or credit cards at all. It would be smart to bring cash. It came in handy for me and it was easy because everything was in US dollars. I have heard that the credit card transactions fees are fairly high so I would open a Visa card without foreign transaction fees to eliminate the problem. Don’t forget to call your credit card companies to let them know that you are going on a trip.
I had a hard time finding any information about Provo other than on Trip Advisor. So, I thought I would share detailed information of my trip to help you, if you decide to plan a trip to Turks and Caicos.
The flight from Minneapolis to Turks and Caicos was only about 5 hours in total with Delta. I could see myself traveling here for a long weekend in the future because the travel was very easy. It was made even easier with the Delta application on my phone which updated which gate I needed to get to because the layover was a quick one.
I would suggest bringing only a carry on bag even for a week. Honestly, you need a few swimsuits and a few cover-ups. Everywhere on the island is casual and I ended up walking right from the beach to a meal several times. You can buy sunscreen when you get there at the local grocery store for about $10 and you don’t need make-up. I spent most of my time relaxing in the water or on the beach.
Once I got to the airport in Turks and Caicos, I was very underwhelmed. It was dirty and not updated. It was not a good first impression. Let’s all hope that they do make the updates that are scheduled to happen. The airport was the only ‘bad’ part of this vacation.
When you get there remind yourself that you are now on “Island Time” and things will not happen fast. Stay calm and remind yourself you are on vacation and not in a race. It can take a while to get from the airport to where you are staying.
If you are picking up a rental car at the airport go to the desks with the Avis, Budget and Thrifty signs. I saw a Grace Bay Car Rentals worker there even though there was no sign.
I chose to go with Avis because of the rate. The car was tiny but had good gas mileage. It only cost about $35 for 7 days of driving wherever I wanted to go on the island.
Before you go you may want to look up a map of the island online. The one that they give you does not have road names on it which makes it a bit harder. We picked one up at our resort when we got there that was much more helpful. Remember, most likely you cannot access google maps when you get lost.
When driving take it slow. People go above the speed limit they do not mind going around you. Once you get a handle on the roundabouts and driving on the other side of the road you can go above the 40 mph. Oh yeah and the cars are in kmp, have fun with that.
I made it to Ocean Club East at the end of Grace Bay. Check-in was a breeze and the staff were friendly and helpful. The room had fresh flowers, a full kitchen, and a washer and dryer. If you stay here I would recommend a third floor room because of the high ceilings and the view from the porch. You do have to walk up the stairs though. The porches are the best part of the rooms, my room had a table to eat at and a lounge chair. At the Ocean Club each room is different so if you find one you like request it the next time.
You can contact the resort before your trip and let them know your travel plans and any requests that you may have. They were very helpful and had my room ready when I arrived at the resort even though check-in was at 4:00PM.
I was very hungry and decided to go the Cabana Bar at Ocean Club East for lunch. You do not need reservations here and can just walk up and pick a table. I ordered the drink special and the fish tacos. They were both great! I liked the grilled fish that was in the tacos and the balsamic that was served with the salad. The service was friendly.
The view from here was unreal, it is right on the beach. I was unsure if the water would be a beautiful as it was in pictures online and it was.
Since the rooms at the Ocean Club have a full kitchen, I made a stop at the IGA which is the one on the highway to get some groceries for breakfast and some snack items for between meals. I thought the prices were not outrageous but what you would expect for being on an island. Some items are much more expensive, others are the same. If you are smart and buy some items that are different than when you buy at home, you will get out of there without spending a huge amount. I got eggs, butter, bread, guava jelly, and a few other items. Most of them only about a dollar more than what I pay in Minneapolis.
For dinner I made a stop at The Flamingo which is between Ocean Club East and Club Med. You do not need a reservation here. I would recommend either the curried grouper or the jerk chicken. Remember to wear bug spray when you are out at night. The Flamingo is right on the beach has great sunset view.
Providencailes does not have a night life. It is a place where people go to relax and get a good night sleep. Most of the people at the Ocean Club were either retired or families. If you want to go to a club or dance all night coming to Provo may not be your cup of tea.
Day one was the beginning of a very relaxing vacation.
I had to post these pictures from the last two days to remind those who no longer live in Minnesota of why they left. WINTER NEVER ENDS.
Plus, I had to preserve my pictures for posterity to remind myself next year that it could be much worse, it could be the end of April.
because sometimes you need to remember
Feeling down and out lately? Isn’t everyone. Mother nature has been playing tricks with all of our minds. It is supposed to be spring, right?
One of this ways to solve this mood issue is by snuggling up on the couch and watching movie. Since that is all that I have been doing lately, I needed a change. What else makes people intensely happy?
One of my favorite places to go grab a delicious sweet is Rustica Bakery. It is fairly easy to get to for Uptown standards and there is parking available. ahhh… it makes things so much easier.
I pointed to a chocolate brownie from the case and saw something else on the menu that perked my interest. As a frequest customer of the Tea Garden I consider myself to be somewhat of a tea connoisseur but I have never tried chestnut tea before. What is this mystical chestnut tea that you have?
The staff at Rustica know their products and were able to explain many of the different teas they currently have on their menu as well as how long the tea I selected needed to steep.
The chestnut tea was nutty and bit spicy and the brownie was rich. Both highly recommended for a winter that will never end. So, since you need to take a mental health break anyway, head over to Rustica to warm your soul.
because the ground-hog lied
On Saturday, April 20th I will be attending the HAMMS- Help a Minnesota Maker Succeed event at the old Hamm’s Brewery Shipping Docks. This event is for men, women, their dogs and those who like to shop local and small. A portion of the ticket proceeds will be awarded to one of the small businesses at the end of the event.
As a fan of fashion, I connected with the image on the website of a really cute Market Basket from Jeanne Beatrice; the perfect summer bag (pictured above). Everyone in Minnesota is ready for summer but it feels like it may never come with all the unseasonably cold weather lately. One of my favorite summer activities is going to the farmers market on a Sunday. There is something uplifting about spending the morning at the market in the sun and picking up fresh food from local farmers. Why not do it fashionably with a market bag from Jeanne Beatrice?
Jeanne Beatrice was started by Laura J. Benson a former Lawyer who created a business doing what she loved. The baskets are made in Morocco by local artisans. Each bag takes 6-8 hours to complete and each is a unique work of art.
I chose to feature Jeanne Beatrice because the Market Bags are affordable, fun, and a great way to help someone across the world. Also, they would be a great gift for a mother for Mother’s Day or a bridal party gift for your bridesmaids. The La Vie Shadow II is on sale for only $27.00 and with its steel grey or pink details, would be perfect for the beach.
My other favorite bags are the one featured on the HAMMS site called the La Vie Henna because of the stitching around the handles and the La Vie en Colour because they are traditional with a pop of color.
You can find all products from Jeanne Beatrice on the website, https://www.jeannebeatrice.com/, or in over 150 boutiques around the world. You can even come to the HAMMS event and pick one up there.
Laura thinks you should come to the event because it, “will be an absolute blast.” It will be a shopping event like no other because the vendors are interacting with customers in different ways and are encouraged to bring wine and appetizers. A fellow foodie, Laura is looking forward to the food trucks that will be there.
If you are someone who likes to shop local and support small business this is the perfect event for you. Tickets to the HAMMS Event on Saturday, April 20th from 10AM-7PM are available online at http://www.hammsevent.com/ until 10 pm on April 19 or for 15 dollars at the door.
because you can look good and do good at the same time.
Everyone knows St. Patrick’s Day will be celebrated on Saturday this year since going out on a Sunday night is not feasible for those who work early Monday morning.
Here is 5 Fun things to do this Saint Patrick’s Day:
- Do a super- scientific poll and see how many people know that Saturday is not really Saint Patrick’s Day.
- Attend the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade. Starting at 6:30PM the parade travels down Nicollet. My favorite is the Bag Pipers and the huge Irish Setter dogs who make an appearance every year.
- Have a Jameson and Ginger or the Two Gingers at The Local in Downtown Minneapolis. It will be very crowded but don’t worry they have space outside as well.
- Drink so much green beer that your pee turns green. Just kidding. But, does that really happen? Drink a Finnegans instead 100% of their profits go to charity.
- Later tonight head to The Saloon. If you want to see the best costuming and green clothing items in town.
Because you are Irish today.
I am not usually a fan of the All-You-Can-Eat type of places but I was pleasantly surprised by Aji Contemporary Japanese in Hopkins. They have a sushi bar that gives you a chance to try many different rolls at what I think is a reasonable price.
This isn’t a place that I would frequent all of the time. But, when I am in a sushi rut it is a good way to try something new. The chefs who work the sushi bar are friendly and will take requests, if you ask nicely. They can also explain the rolls that have already been made. If you really like a certain roll, you will know what to order next time. If you do not like a specific roll or ingredient you know to avoid it in the future.
I would suggest Aji for the more adventurous sushi eater. Someone who is willing to go past the California and the Philly roll and go for something with crispy skin or eel.
Eating sushi off a bar freaks me out a little bit. But, the ingredients they were using were fresh. I saw them cutting a fresh fish while I was there. The rolls go quickly as well, I was not worried about them sitting out for too long.
The Aji website is not clear as to how much the sushi bar is and when they have it open. It is not open all of the time. I know that the lunch is a bit cheaper than dinner and that Sunday is special. I would call ahead of time and ask some questions to make sure you are not disappointed.
because try something new!
I love the North Shore in the wintertime. Yes, it can be bitter cold. But, it is simply beautiful as well.
On the way up to the North Shore I always stop in Duluth to get a bite to eat. I can never wait long enough to make it to Two Harbors, so Duluth it always is.
My stop in Duluth included a trip to Duluth Grill. I have been talking up this place with many friends and on here after my summer trip. You can read about it HERE.
Duluth Grill serves really good food. The portions are huge and there are so many options I think it would take me a year to eat all of the combinations. I stopped here for dinner this time and because it was a Friday they had fish specials. I tried both the meat loaf and salmon. Both were delicious. I cannot remember anything that I have ever had there that I did not like though. The salmon came with smashed sweet potatoes that were cooked just right with a bit of brown sugar on top. The service was great and made me sad that we don’t have a Grill in Minneapolis. Hint, Hint.
Another stop I have to make is in Grand Marais at the Fish Market. I always pick up fish to make during the trip. It is always fresh and cooks up quickly. I also like the salmon dip from here as well. It is a wonderful appetizer for a wintertime party (see below). I have never eaten at the Fish Market because it does close after New Years for a bit and by the time I get there they are done serving food. I am going to make it a stop on the next summer trip I take.
Also in Grand Marais I like to stop in all the local stores especially the Sivertson Art Gallery with work from artists like Dave Gilsvik and Jim Brandenburg. It is fun to look at all the different artwork and sip tea. Many of the artists live in the North Shore and their art reflects many of the sites of the North Shore. It would be like taking a piece of the shore home with you.
In Grand Marias I also enjoy the trading post because of all the great brands that they have there. I can always find something to use. This year I bought a pair of gloves with fur that are missing the fingers. I like them when it is not too cold outside because it is easy to grab my bus pass.
We always stay in a VRBO rental (Vacation Rentals By Owner). It is a great way to do a vacation with a larger group or if you like to cook. This year we stayed in Tofte, MN. I liked Tofte because there are a few shops and gas stations not too far away for supplies. I haven’t stayed in any of the hotels in the area but, I am curious as to what they are like as well. I am a sucker for a pool. Also, stay on the lake because the views are breathtaking.
If it is not too cold out, take a hike. There are so many places to hike in the area. If you have snow shoes there are cleaned paths that you can take as well. Many of the local gas stations and stores have maps. My best suggestion is to ask a local.
On the way home I stopped at Sir Ben’s. Deli by day, bar by night. I love the relaxed atmosphere and the beer selection. It is a really fun place to be. Try whatever their special is that day or whatever on the menu speaks to you. I have yet to be disappointed.
because you gotta get, get, get away.