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Top 5 – Madden’s Resort in Brainerd MN


Each and every year I head out to Brainerd, Minnesota to Madden’s Resort. We’ve been doing it for years and it always is a highlight of my summer. I live for days at the pool soaking in the last of the summer. Here are my top 5 reasons why I love heading to Madden’s each year:

#5 Beaches and Pools

I’ve always loved the water but I’ve never lived on a lake or had a pool at my house. So whenever I have access to pools or beaches I take full advantage of it. My favorite pool is the one outside the club house. My family loves to congregate there after breakfast and spend the day hanging out. We read, we play in the water, and we may even have an afternoon cocktail. If there is unpleasant weather they have indoor pools available too.

#4 Nisswa

When I am up there I love going in to Nisswa and exploring Brainerd. They have 2 great breweries in the area Gull Dam Brewing and Big Axe. Plus, many great restaurants and some shopping within 15-30 minutes from Maddens.

#3 Planning and Snacks

One of the best parts of vacation is planning them! Each year I bring up snacks and a signature cocktail. I usually take quite a bit of time making sure I’ve picked my favorite snacks and a cocktail that everyone will like. This year it was a rum punch. If you need to pick up something on the way making a stop at the Saint Joe Meat Market for beef sticks and Bo Diddley’s Sandwich Shop for guac and chips will disappoint no one.

#2 Golfing

I love going golfing on the courses at Madden’s they are difficult but when you play a scramble tournament with your family, they are fun!

#1 Getting Away!

My favorite part of Madden’s is just getting away. Getting away from my job, the city, and unplugging for awhile just to spend time with the people around me.

because that’s what life is really about

Xoxo -mplsgossipgirl

Where do you go on vacation in Minnesota? Or if you are a Madden’s fan what do you love?

 

Always Stop at Surdyk’s Wine and Cheese Shop


Surdyks Cheese and Cider

Recently, one of my favorite activities has been stopping at Surdyk’s to get cheese and a bottle of something to enjoy. I’d forgotten how great this place can be to stop in and learn something new and try something new too.

I highly suggest stopping in their cheese shop which is so much more than just a cheese shop. They have some grab and go items, meat from Red Meat Table Company, bread, and everything else you could possibly add to a sophisticated cheese plate.

What’s even better than the selection is the knowledge that every person working there has about the items that fill the shop. Ask and you will learn something new and most likely discover a new favorite. The other week I was looking for a brie that had a creamy flavor without too much funk and they were able to point me to a perfect selection. Not only a perfect selection but the perfect ripeness of the cheese. A combination that made the brie divine.

I’ve come in needing help picking out the right cheeses for a cheese board for people who don’t like blue cheese and also needing help picking out a wine for people who enjoy both Spanish reds and whites. How can you help me find something that people who you are hosting will love but something that they may not have had before? They seem to do it with ease and they make me seem like a thoughtful host with great taste. The great taste I have is that I know a place where they know how to amuse and delight my guests and well, amuse me too. I always get a little something. How can you not?

because if you ask you might just learn something new

Xoxo @mplsgossipgirl

What is your go to item when you stop at Surdyk’s?

Saturday Stroll- Minneapolis Farmers Market


Summer Farmers Market, Weekend Markets Minneapolis, Minneapolis Farmers Market

I am an early riser. I always have been. I am secretly jealous of people who are able to sleep in when they’ve stayed up the late the night before. Regardless of the late night I’ve had before I am usually up by 6:00am. One of the many upsides of being a morning person is that I am able to get things done in the morning before others have even woken up.

On the weekends I like to go and hang out with people who are up even before me. On either Saturday or Sunday I love to stroll over to the Minneapolis Farmers Market. Each week I like to stop by my favorite stalls and pick up an ingredient that I hadn’t even planned on buying and then I try and make a meal with that ingredient.

Radishes Minneapolis Farmers Market

This week I picked up radishes that I plan on quick pickling for tacos this week. I also picked up some spring onions that I put on a sourdough breakfast sandwich with an egg and goat cheese. That Rustica sourdough sandwich was delicious!

I really enjoy just strolling around the market and looking at what each stall has and planning menus in my head and getting there early helps me avoid the crowds that show up around 9:30am. Sometime this summer get out to the Farmers Market early in the morning pick up something special for yourself and enjoy something new on your table.

because a Saturday stroll can make your weekend delicious

Xoxo @mplsgossipgirl

What do you like to do when you wake up early?

The Duluth Grill Cookbook II


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The Duluth Grill is a must stop for me anytime I go up north. It all started on a camping trip that was supposed to be only in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan then turned into a Duluth adventure thanks to unpredictable weather. On that trip without a plan I found two amazing restaurants, a breakfast place in Michigan where they made their own bread and jam and the whole meal cost me five dollars, and a trip to Duluth where I was able to discover all the joints that the locals raved about including the Duluth Grill. Now, I’ve been known to make the trip to Duluth just to eat at the Duluth Grill and Northern Waters Smokehaus.

Once you go to the Duluth Grill you never really forget about the brightly colored cups, amazing choices on the menu, and the fact that it sits in a strange part of town but everyone seems to find it alright anyways. Who needs to be by the stinkin’ lake walk anyways?

One of the things that I appreciated most about the Duluth Grill is the attention to vegetarians and vegans- there was no sacrifice of flavor or heartiness that I see at more restaurants than I would care to think about. It was much more than a salad. Plus, you knew where many of your ingredients were coming from.

The Duluth Grill Cookbook and now the new Duluth Grill Cookbook II give you an even more in depth story about where the ingredients are coming from and how to make some of your favorite dishes at home.

The can’t miss section from this cookbook is the condiments and sauces. Every time I go to the restaurant I am blown away by how much detail is put into each dish and how each thing, even the sauces and condiments, feel like they are thought out and made with love. So, you can only imagine how great it is that they’ve revealed some of their secrets and we can now try and make it at home.

Sometimes we forget that the simple when done right can be just as beautiful. The Garlic Spread is one of those items with only 4 ingredients it lets the garlic be the star of the show and added to the right dish, it gives it the upper edge. I was very excited about the Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette, it’s easy peasy and tastes so much better than a store bought dressing.

I admit that as a home cook I sometimes struggle with Vegan recipes. I love cheese way to much. I’ve never even thought of using walnuts to make an alternative to taco meat. This recipe makes you feel like you can take on cooking this dish even if it is much different from the way that you normally cook.

If you are a fan of the Duluth Grill like I am, pick up a copy of both of their cookbooks, learn about the local farmers and the people behind the food.

As for me, I’m planning my next trip up north even if it’s just for a day.

because good food is found by the locals.

Xoxo- @mplsgossipgirl

Disclosure: I received an advanced copy of this cookbook.

 

 

Valentine’s Day Pop-Up at Hazel and Rose


Hazel and Rose Valentine's Day Pop- Up

 

There’s really nothing better than getting a thoughtful gift. The gifts you will find at the Hazel and Rose Valentine’s Pop-Up are sustainable, ethical, and have been carefully selected by shop owner Emma Olson. You’ll be in good hands if you are still in search of the perfect gift.

The items you will find at this pop-up won’t be found at any big box retailer and certainly are created and manufactured with love. Many items are handmade which adds to the uniqueness. I think I might just go shop for myself because Valentine’s Day is about self love. Right?

The event at Hazel and Rose will feature five brands that value sustainability, ethical manufacturing, quality, and beauty:

Thursday, Feb 11 – Saturday, Feb 13 11am-7pm until Sunday, Feb 14 11am-4pm.

 

If you can’t make it out to this event make sure you sign up for the Hazel and Rose email list: http://www.shophazelandrose.com/

because you don’t want to screw up Valentine’s Day even if it’s just for yourself. #TreatYoSelf

@mplsgossipgirl

 

Local Crate – New Meal Delivery Service in Minnesota


LOCAL CRATE EXAMPLE - KELSEY LEE PHOTO-1042

You have no idea how excited I am about this! A few weeks ago my cousin and his wife were in town and they told me about this meal delivery service that they have in Milwaukee. They have fresh ingredients shipped to their home with recipes that they can make fairly fast. They like to cook like I do but since they have a new baby, time is not on their side. This is a quick way to get a healthy meal and still have the taste of a freshly cooked meal. All I thought to myself is— how do we not have this in Minneapolis?

I ran across Local Crate recently in my Twitter feed thanks to the awesome people that I follow.  It looks like they are trying to make a go of this same idea but are sourcing local Minnesota ingredients.

Local Crate is a delivery service that sends fresh, local, portioned ingredients, and chef designed recipes to Minnesotans weekly making it easy for people to cook locally. Now, this is an idea that I can get behind! I enjoy eating out at restaurants but it is not something that I can do everyday. This would be a great fill in for the weeks that I am craving a home cooked meal and when I have commitments that don’t allow me enough time to get to the grocery store.

I usually only cook for two people and you usually can’t buy the ingredients for only two portions. This is a great way to get only what you need for the recipe and eliminates that one jam you needed for that ONE recipe that you made a year ago and it is still sitting in your refrigerator (not from personal experience, nope, not here).

LOCAL CRATE EXAMPLE - KELSEY LEE PHOTO-1075

Local Crate was started by the Kitchen Ninja and the Baby Kitchen Ninja AKA: Mike Stalbaum and Frank Jackman. They both were working for a large food manufacturer and realized that they could create a business around helping their community by working with local farmers and providers. They are passionate about changing the way that people eat and want to give back to our community. I am super excited to see where Local Crate goes!

The meals look great with options ranging from Spaghetti Carbonara to Shakshouka. Each recipe on listed on their website is something that I would enjoy trying. Also, they have enough variety that I don’t think I would get sick of the options. Each recipe comes with detailed instructions and a picture (this always helps me).

Currently, they are doing a Kickstarter project to raise much needed, cash flow for packaging, ingredients, cold and dry storage, and photo equipment. They have some great thank you gifts available and if you are interested in getting Local Crate I would suggest that you help them raise the $7,000 that they need to make their goal. I am clearly a proud supporter of this great idea so I backed this project! He

CLICK HERE to help them reach their goal!

Because this is a great idea and I can’t wait to try it!

@mplsgossipgirl

Support Local Kickstarter Projects!


Kickstart

I am a huge fan of this whole crowd funding movement. It just makes sense for me to be able to easily give money to products and causes that are important to me. Plus, it is really cool just to see all the awesome stuff that people are trying to do.

Here are a few local projects that need your help to become completely funded:

ENDING SOON Appetite for Change –  is a social enterprise that hosts community cooking workshops, builds urban farms and engages community to build a community-based food system. This money will go towards training youth in their job program. You obviously don’t need me to tell you how important this is!

They have some amazing rewards still available for restaurants like Spoonriver, Burch Steakhouse, the soon to open Brut, and even a unique experience with Andrew Zimmern and Gavin Kaysen available. I totally volunteer to come to any one of these dinners!

Help them fund their project HERE

Bark and the Bite- Artisan Barbecue Truck serving Minneapolis with world class smoked meats, craft sauces, scratch sides, great vegetarian and gluten free options. This is from the team behind Sapor this food truck seems like it will serve some awesome food.

I love food trucks and I love BBQ. Naturally, I think it would be great to have another one on the road.

Help them fund their project HERE

Crapola- Awesome high-fiber breakfast cereal, which is named by playfully combining the words cranberry, apple, and granola. (Smart)

They want to move to a larger production facility.  “We don’t want to have to hire someone else to make our granola – we prefer to continue making our products ourselves.” – I agree!

Help them fund their project HERE

Omni Brewing- OMNI means “all, every, of every kind.” That’s a perfect summation of their vision – a beer for everyone. They serve a wide variety of interesting craft beers at our inviting taproom in Maple Grove. No pretense here. Just beer.

They are trying to make their taproom a comfortable place to be.

They will be using the funds to:

  • Build a great bar
  • Renovate the taproom area
  • Buy tables, chairs, and bar stools
  • Stock the taproom with games and entertainment

Although, they already hit their goal they are offering a new perk if they hit their stretch goal of $40,000.

Get some awesome perks HERE

because it’s fun to help people with their dream

@mplsgossipgirl

What’s the coolest perk you’ve ever gotten from a Kickstarter project?

Aromi – Matte Liquid Lipstick


Aromi Lipstick

I am not the type of person to normally wear lipstick. I am starting to get more into wearing lipstick after discovering the Aromi Matte Liquid Lipstick at Garden of Eden. I love the highly pigmented colors that you can get because it really pops.

The greatest thing about this lipstick is that is stays on! I call it my two beers lipstick because I can drink two beers without it all coming off. It is not permanently on your lips so it does come off with any makeup remover and if you are licking your lips a lot.

I wear the flamingo red which is more of a blue-red and cannot wait to see what new colors will be coming out.

Aromi is a local company that provides handcrafted cosmetics and fragrances that are formulated from scratch, handcrafted in their own laboratory, with great ingredients.  I first discovered them awhile back when I wanted to buy their solid perfume for travel purposes. It is also great and solved a problem that I had– I wanted to wear a fragrance but only wanted to bring a carry on bag. I ended up falling in love with their scents and I’ve bought many of the cologne solid fragrances for gifts.

The Founder Hannah, created Aromi out of a passion for chemistry and all things beauty products.  She is a chemist by trade and spent years working as a formulation chemist before finally starting Aromi. All the products are vegan too!

You can buy both the Matte Lipstick and women’s solid fragrances at Garden of Eden on Grand Avenue (Only some of the colors available).

Because it’s fun to wear lipstick

@mplsgossipgirl

Have you tried Aromi? What is your favorite color?

Disclosure: I bought by own Lipstick at Garden of Eden. These opinions are my own and when I find something like this I feel the need to write about it to let other people know. Plus, supporting local small businesses is my thing.

MN Blogger Bash Recap!


MN_BloggerBash_V5

I had so much fun last night! I hope you did too. Last night I helped host #MNBloggerBash with Linda from Garden of Eden and Alexis from myTalk 107.1 at Bread & Chocolate. It was just a night for bloggers to get together and talk. We rarely get to see the people we talk to on social media in real life and this was a great chance to do that. Plus, a few giveaways and a swag bag from Garden of Eden! Did you like your signature scent? I hope you were able to meet someone new that you didn’t know before and make this blogger community a little bit smaller. I think everyone did because there was so much energy in that room!

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It was really fun to get to catch up with friends that I met when I first started blogging (Life with Levi, Katie Looking Forward, and Being Zhenya). But, I also met new people (HappyShoeDay, A Pinch of Lemon, Champagne and Macaroons, Wool and Whiskey, Some of the Flock of Broads, and so many others). I wish I had a chance to meet every single person that I didn’t know!

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The feedback that I received from the event is that we need to do this again! We need to do it again just because I wasn’t able to meet everyone that was there.

The Blogger Bash was born out of wanting to get together with my blogger friends to just have some time to chat. I feel like the only time we get together is if it is educational or being pitched. Rarely, do I have the chance to get together with a HUGE group of bloggers where I just get to hang out. It was amazing to FINALLY meet bloggers I know only from our twitter relationship (Twila Dang)!

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I want to send a BIG thank you to Alexis Thompson from myTalk 107.1 and Linda from Garden of Eden for being excellent hosts. I hope you liked the wonderful swag bags from Garden of Eden. Linda wanted to pick signature scents for each of you! It also contained Aromi Matte Lip Stain, Aromi is a local company that can be found at Garden of Eden. You each got my signature color Flamingo Red! We are thankful for all of the great local businesses and non-profits that could come: Plush Pumpkins, Hope Chest, Invision, Ten Thousand Villages, and Vine Park Brewing.

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If you loved this event make sure that you don’t miss out on the Minnesota Blogger Conference. It happens in the fall and is one of the BEST events for local bloggers. I saw a presentation from Lauren Melcher that changed my life.

Give me a little time to recover and I will start planning the next Blogger Bash! If you are a blogger and would like to get an invite to the next event comment below with your email address. We will be limited again by whatever venue we choose so only limited amount of invitations will go out. You know that whole fire code thing.

I will be posting the pictures on the Garden of Eden Facebook page later today! CLICK HERE!

Because we need to meet each other in real life!

@mplsgossipgirl

What was your favorite part of MNBloggerBash?

Eastlake Brewery


LynLake Brewery

I’ve been meaning to go here forever and finally made it out to Eastlake Brewery! I am a huge fan of the Midtown Global Market where it is located. I think it holds some of the best food found in Minneapolis. If you haven’t been to The Rabbit Hole or The Salty Tart yet, go there soon.

When you go to Eastlake Brewery come with an empty stomach because you can get food from the market and bring it in to the brewery to enjoy. The space is fairly big and contains a lot of natural light. It is also family friendly. When I was there, there were several families sitting around and having a meal together.

EastLake Brewery

I wasn’t hugely impressed by the beers that I sampled other than their current sour brew Kirby Pucker and Belgian Pale Ale. They were a little too fruity and floral for my personal taste. I am the first to admit that don’t take my word on it. I love to drink beer. BUT– I think beer is such a personal thing that beers that I am not a fan of, others would like. Their current Saison with ginger and pink lemons was not my thing but I could see people who like fruity beers loving it.

Current Beers at EastLake

With all that being said, I would come back even though I wasn’t a huge fan of their brews I tried. I didn’t get a chance to try their IPA’s since I got their lighter flight. I will be back to give those a try sometime soon. I went lighter because I was looking for a great summer beer.

I loved the space and it’s fun to bring food from any of the places in the market. If you are going to eat at the Brewery try Hot Indian Foods or Manny’s Tortas. Both are wonderful!

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Overall, I liked this place as a perfect place to hang out and I’m excited to try some of their heavier brews next time.

because a great hangout and great food make a wonderful night.

What’s your favorite brewery to hangout in?

@mplsgossipgirl

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