Montreal is my favorite North American city ( sorry NY and SF). It’s a little bit French and a little bit American and a whole lot Canadian which means the food is delicious, the portions are large and everything is nice and clean.
There is so much to love. I wanted to share a little of it with you.
Street art is everywhere in Montreal. These bright pops of color make walking and window shopping a treat.
Montreal has delicious food in spades. I think this was the trip that officially busted my diet Sadly, it was worth it. These pictures don’t include some Montreal classics (and new classics) that ate too quickly to photograph – Fairmount bagels, Schwartz’s Deli, Le Petit Alep, and Au Peid de Cochon. Highly recommend all of them.
Kouing Amann is a bit of an obsession. I may or may not have booked an awesome place on Air BnB because it was within walking distance from the crack shop (I mean bakery)
Nom nom nom! Juliette & Chocolat is a divine chocolate bar and a perfect break from the cold outdoors, or any other excuse you may need to eat and drink chocolate.
THE GENERAL AMBIANCE
I just love the feel of the city. It’s incredibly clean but also funky. It’s dense with houses, stores and restaurants, but it’s not hectic. It’s fashionable and cosmopolitan but also incredibly approachable.
Last year I started what I hope will become an annual tradition of making a list of 27 things I wanted to do before I turned 28. The goal was to push myself to take on fun challenges with the added “pressure” of a deadline. While I didn’t get to everything on the list, I’m really proud of so many of things I did check off like losing 50lbs and getting to 100 blog posts!
I’m a couple months late on my list for this year, but here are my goals for the next year. I look forward to sharing them with you on the blog!
1. Finish the remaining items on my ’27 Before 28′ list.
2. Get to running a comfortable 10 min mile.
Go to a cool festival – New Yorker Books, SXSW, Alt, Burning man, etc. Saw Zadie Smith at the New Yorker Festival!
4. Get my nose pierced…or decide I not to once and for all.
5. Build a wardrobe with only clothes I love.
6. Learn to speak French.
7. Add $10,000 to savings.
8. Pay off credit cards.
9. Visit two new countries.
10. Do Crossfit for 3 months.
11. Get to 250 blog posts.
12 7 books.
13. Take a random class for fun.
14. Lose the next 50lbs.
15. Get in a bathing suit for Puerto Rico.
16. Write a business plan.
17. Run another half marathon.
12 5 DIY/craft projects.
19. Go skydiving.
20. Host a fabulous dinner party.
21. Take a trip alone.
22. Get 5 merit badges.
23. Get couples pictures taken for Dave and I.
24. Edit wedding video.
25. Complete a photography challenge.
26. Practice yoga everyday for a month.
27.Learn to bake bread- make 5 perfect loaves.
28. Make some macaroons on my own.
Need a gift idea for a birthday? bat mitzvah? house warming? Subscription boxes make excellent gifts that keep giving delight to the recipient for months to come. I recently needed a gift to celebrate a girlfriend’s first child, and after a little searching landed on a 3 month subscription to Citrus Lane.
They also make great gifts to yourself, a way to explore new passion and products in a curated way. I am especially excited to try ‘For the Makers’ and get my creativity on. Check out 6 great great subscription boxes below.
FOR YOUR FRIENDS WITH KIDS: CITRUS LANE
- 4 to 5 “best of” products
- Based on the child’s age (newborn to 3 years)
- $25 per month with free shipping
- 3, 6 and 12 month gift packages
FOR YOUR BEAUTY-OBSESSED SISTER: BIRCH BOX
- Sample the best beauty and lifestyle products
- Learn tips and tricks from experts
- Buy what you love and earn points
FOR YOUR CRAFTY COUSIN: FOR THE MAKERS
- “DIY inspired by the runway, delivered to your doorstep… “
- Materials for 4 projects monthly
- Next box ships on the second Saturday of the month
- Shipping is free
FOR YOUR FOODIE FRIEND: LOVE WITH FOOD
“Get tasty bites for $10/month and we’ll donate a meal to help fight hunger.”
FOR YOUR BOOKISH FRIEND: JUST THE RIGHT BOOK
- “Matching Books and Readers Daily
- Pick a subscription of 4, 6 or 12 books/yr, hardcover or trade paperback.
- Selections for kids, teens and adults
- Book come gift wrapped and are shipped at $3.99 per book
FOR YOUR METRO MAN: 12SOCIETY
- $39 per month
- 4 to 6 hand-picked “best of” products
- $125 min. value in every box + free shipping Significant value on premium products
There is sometimes no better way to get around a city as a tourist than on a bike. You can breeze from neighborhood to neighborhood quickly, getting your blood pumping in between meals. Renting bikes from a local shop can be expensive and a hassle, as is figuring out where to park it.
I first noticed bike shares in Montreal a couple years ago where their Bixi bike system peppers the city with grey and red bikes, inviting you to try. We were a bit skiddish and stuck to our two feet. Being in Minneapolis this summer, we took the plunge with Nice Ride, really everyone is doing it! My best moments in the city are curated through the lens of a neon cruiser bike.
Why so much love?
FIVE REASONS I LOVE NICE RIDE (AND BIKE SHARES IN GENERAL):
1. It’s cheap: While you can get monthly and annual memberships, for the tourist, the $6 daily pass is perfect. For $6 you can take unlimited rides of 30 mins or less each for 24 hours. If you want to take longer trips without docking the bike, the fess can add up, though the most they charge for a day is $65.
2. It’s convenient: There are Nice Ride docks pretty much everywhere you want to go in the Twin Cities (proper). So bikes are available whenever and wherever you want to go. Each dock has about a dozen or so spots and I have never not been able to find a bike or an empty spot to return a bike. Nice ride also has an awesome app that times your trip, shows you where the next Nice Ride station is, and even tells you how many docks are free (perfect for when you’re riding with a group. All this makes it super easy to take several “under 30 minute” trips around the city all without costing you an extra penny.
See they are everywhere….
3. It solved the “zip car” problem. My husband and I are big car share fans and have used Zip Car and its derivatives in almost every city we’ve lived in. While we love them, we always lament that they run on an “origin-to-origin” model – you have to bring your trip full circle. While it works well for grocery shopping and errands, it does not work so well for trips where you need to go from point A to B to C to D (and not back to A again). Nice Ride solves that. I can pick up a bike in Loring Park, drop it off in Uptown, take another bike to NordEast and end the day in the Warehouse district – no problem. The logistics of this are impressive and make me wish I had paid more attention in my Operations class.
4. It feeds the design geek in me. Nice Rides are nicely appointed in gender neutral neon green with blue accents (thanks to the Blue Cross Blue Shield sponsorship). They’re also a little retro throwback in their cruiser style. All this to say I feel pretty awesome riding one around town. I also get a kick out of their logo – perfection.
5. It does good. Nice ride is a non-profit that is doing the right thing by a city that is built for biking. It’s good for the environment, the body and the community. Nice Ride has also organized Nice Nites, where locals can meet up and ride together to great spots around the city. My little hippie heart loves that I get to share a seat with hundreds of thousands of people in the Twin cities.
Bike sharing is available in other cities across the globe. Check out this Wikipedia list of bike shares.
Our Thursday night flying experience out of Minneapolis St. Paul Airport was pretty abysmal. Our flight was first 2.5 hours late, then ultimately cancelled. The one super bright spot was having dinner at Surdyk’s Flights. Trips to the airport for me are usually when I indulge in my guilty pleasure fast food places, but passing by such a gorgeous shop in the middle of the airport, we had to stop.
The seating is bar style and the decor is bright, modern and almost makes you forget you’re in an airport (though the waitresses’ aviation-inspired outfits do remind you). They offer wine flights at reasonable prices – from $10 up, though most are under $20. Just the right amount of alcohol to get you buzzed and cozy for the travel ahead.
I got the Reason for Riesling flight, which came with a delicious taste of Strub Soil to Soul, a fragrant and sweet Riesling. We loved it so much, that we bought a bottle to share with friends when we landed.
In addition to wine flights, we ordered the 3 cheese and 3 salami plate for a reasonable $16. A feast for the eyes as well as the belly, it came beautifully dressed with fresh fruit, dried fruit, mustard, sours, nuts and olives. The ingredients were incredibly high quality and delicate, not at all what you would expect from an airport outpost.
Surdyk’s also has a large store in the Nordeast neighborhood of Minneapolis that has pretty much any alcohol you’d want and a cheese and meats selection to die for. Surdyks Flights has mostly wine and a great menu of sandwiches, salads, cheese, and charcuterie. They also sell bakery items and gourmet packaged foods.
If you ever find yourself hungry (or thirsty) at Minneapolis airport, I would highly recommend waltzing by Surdyk’s Flights for a classy and delicious dining experience.
1. The basics: The Cookbook Collector by Allegra Goodman. 416 pages.
2. How I consumed it: Kindle e-book
3. Genre: Fiction, Romantic Fiction, Chick-Lit
4. One sentence description: A tale of two sisters: One, a hard charging, dot.com entrepreneur who makes all the right moves in business, but has a stale personal life. The other a passionate, irresponsible English grad student who wants nothing more from life than to sit in the company of antique books and follow one cause after another. (Ok way more than an sentence)
5. Why it grabbed me: This is a selfish reason, but the action takes place in Silicon Valley (where I go to school) and the Boston area (where I lived for many years). I was enthralled to see those places captured so authentically by Goodman who has also spent time in both locations. It also chronicled the dot.com boom and bust and perfectly articulated the mood of the era. The plot, especially the love stories, was a little over wrought, but it kept me turning the page. The descriptions of excess were as compelling as they were slightly disturbing.
6. Where it lost me: A slightly cheap plot twist near the end and how neatly the story wrapped up.
7. It reminded me of: In Her Shoes by Jennifer Weiner.
8. The verdict: A wonderfully engaging vacation read.
9. A second opinion: Check out the New York Times review here.
Last Thursday we checked out the Walker museum for free (thanks Target!). It’s an impressive structure and came highly recommended by everyone. I am admittedly not a huge museum person since I don’t usually “feel” art that profoundly. Add in that it’s very modern art and I had low expectations.
Some of the best art is actually outside the Walker in the sculpture garden. That’s where the famous cherry and spoon sculpture lives.
I find a lot of modern art to be overrated and silly. You know the type I’m talking about with crayon scribbles that go for millions. There was a lot of that in the Walker’s standing collection. But there were also some really interesting pieces:
I was mixed on the standing collection, but really loved the 80′s exhibit. It was my 2nd favorite part of the museum. There were a ton of great pieces ( I especially liked the Mapplethorpe and Basquiat works) and much of it was political. I was visually stimulated and learned something. This is worth seeing:
My absolute favorite part of the Walker was the gift shop. That’s not a dig on the Walker, I usually love the gift shop more than anything in any museum. The shop had the usual high-art gifts and books, but also an awesome set of locally made items like the MPLS sign in the picture below.
If you’re in town for more than 2 days, I would recommend that you take a trip to the Walker, even if you’re not the biggest art buff. It’s a well-designed, generous space with some provocative art and a killer gift shop.
As you know, I’m big on podcasts, but I do get in a rut with them. I have my favorites and really just stick with those week in and week out. Every once in a while, I’ll find a new (to me) podcast that makes me so excited, that I go through the archives and listen to all the old episodes. My newest love is NPR’s Planet Money. I found Planet Money through their partner episodes with ‘This American Life’ but finally got around to checking it out on it’s own right this weekend. I’m hooked. Why so much love?
Five Things I love about the Planet Money Podcast:
1. It’s relevant. I don’t need to tell you there is some important (and depressing) stuff going on in the world economy. Planet money brings you everything you need to know about the LIBOR, the Greek debt crisis and the fiscal cliff, to name a few recent topics. It will make you smarter and way more interesting or at least more able to carry on a conversation about the economy.
2. It’s interesting. Economics can be boring and I say this as someone who majored in Economics and works in business. Planet Money finds a way to make even the most boring topics, exciting. The producers and hosts make the stories come alive with interviews and novel ways to explore a topic. An episode on what Iceland should do with it’s currency is a great example of this. They also mix in super serious topics with more pop cultures ones – think Freakamonics.
3. It explains complex simply. Ever wonder how private equity works? or What happened in the Euro debt crisis? Planet money can explain this to you beautifully. That alone makes it worth listening to.
4. It’s short and sweet. Planet Money podcasts are usually between 6-25 minutes, but they pack a big punch. They are perfect for bite-sized breaks from work or if you need something to listen to when you have a short task to make lighter. The length also makes it easy to catch up to old episodes, which I am moving through at break-neck speed.
5. It’s music to my ears. One unexpected perk of listening to Planet Money is that I find out about great songs. They usually have an outro, and sometimes an intro, and whoever picks the songs is a guy or girl after my own heart. They play indie rock, classics, hiphop and top 40. The songs are often related to the show’s theme which is a fun paring. They list the songs on the blog for each episode and made longer list of songs here.
It’s my 4th week in Minneapolis and I wanted to share some pictures of the sights around town. I’m liking the cities so far, lots of great restaurants and it’s incredibly manageable. One thing I’m not loving is the weather- it’s pretty gross so far this summer (hot and muggy). I’ll be back at the end of a summer with a round up of my recommendations for what to see and do in the Twin cities, but for now, I have mostly pictures.
The view outside my window day and night. I’m on the 28th floor and have an incredible view. It’s a new luxury for me. I’ve always lived in two flats with now view to speak of. I love smaller buildings, but this view is making me rethink my preference. I have to admit that I step out on the balcony at night and pretend I’m super super fancy.
I’m in the Loring Park neighborhood, and here are some pictures from the park. I love the dandelion fountain.
The view from “the bridge to nowhere” outside of Guthrie Theater. Definitely worth seeing.
The Northeast neighborhood is probably one of my favorite in Minneapolis. Lots of cute restaurants and shops.
St. Paul is probably where I would live if I moved to the Twin Cities (though the commute to my current workplace would be a problem). Grand Street is the main drag with lots window shopping, particularly on the gourmet food front. There are also lots of strollers and young families, perfect for where Dave and I will be in a couple years. I also love the architecture of the houses – very diverse styles and plenty of bungalows. The living is dense, yet spacious. The houses in St. Paul are pretty large, but are tightly packed together. Which is how I want to live. I am one of those odd people who wants to be close to her neighbors and doesn’t dream of a sprawling yard.
Hope you enjoyed a taste of the twin cities, more to come over the summer!
I’m living in a hotel-like extended stay building for the summer, so needless to say there is not too much design inspiration in my current home. No worries, there is plenty of inspiration in the lives of others.
In walks “J”, a co-worker who is moving to Johannesburg in the fall. She’s starting from scratch in outfitting an apartment, buying items from here and shipping them abroad. She’s into modern design, probably way more modern than me. I’ve envisioned a parlor for her rich in color, pattern and mid-century modern design. Take a look:
What’s in J’s Living Room:
1. Silk Grommet Window Panel – Red Rose – $89 – $119 – West Elm. 2. Moreno Nesting Table – $399 – Crate and Barrel 3. Well-being 1 by Valerie Roybal 16 x 20 -$200- 20×20. 4. Everett Leather Chair – $699 – West Elm. 5. Benjamin Moore Natura Paint, Silver Scallop -$54.95 – West Elm 6. Petrie Sofa – Tranquil – $1699 – Crate and Barrel 7. DwellStudio Peacock Pillow and Citrine and DwellStudio Gate Pillow – Citrine – DesignPublic 8. Alberta Table Lamp Red + Cherry – $500 – Caravan Pacific. 9. Bradshaw 42r Coffee Table – Walnut – $999 – Room and Board 10. Scroll Time Rug – Grey - $179 – $849 – Pottery Barn