I've been gone for a couple of weeks and I have so much to share. I'm gonna travel again this weekend as well and will hopefully have more! So this little post is about a great mini-adventure I took back in the middle of October last year up to the Gunflint Lodge. The furtherest north I've been in the states. I had been wanting to visit here for a while especially after reading Wonderstruck which is partially set on the Gunflint Trail. Even though I just missed the fall foliage there was still plenty of stark fall beauty to behold and enjoy. Staying at the lodge was a pleasant experience that included wine being left in the cabin with snacks. There was no cell service so there was a couple days break from that as well. There was plenty of hiking, climbing and picture taking followed by drinks in the main building and staring at ducks. Going into nature to do nothing is a big thing here in Minnesota and even though it's taking a while for me to get used to it, I am starting to find it very valuable to my creative process. Letting my mind wonder is making me have more ideas than anything ever. No wonder there are so many writers in Minnesota. And of course, there was a stop in Duluth, Minnesota(another great city) for a visit to Pizza Luce, the original one. I had the seasonal flat bread with mock duck, mushrooms and general yumminess. We brought along our own food makings for dinners and breakfasts in our cabin which had a full kitchen. It was cozy, warm and I drink wine in front of a fire till I fell asleep in my flannel pajamas.
See my review(s) on Trip Advisor. Happy Travels!
There is a beautiful, historical place in St. Paul, Minnesota by the name of the Saint Paul Hotel. It is a lovely place to stay and I've been lucky enough to be able to stay twice in the Park Suite. The most recent time was for New Year's Eve in which there was a small celebration and bubbly all through the night. The staff is very kind and the space is so gorgeous. It's in a great location for visiting famous spots in the city as well.
My lovely dress from the Victorian Trading Company.
It has always been my estimation that the best way to honor someone like David Bowie, you know one of the giants of humankind, is to do something creative or compassionate in their honor. One big one for me was when Terry Pratchett died. I started writing a story called Adventures in Science Fiction Reality. It's filled with all the stories of things that have happened at Convergence (yeah, you and that thing you did are probably in it) that I am going to publish and share this year during the convention. Whatever it is you do better than anyone(jokes, songs, books, food, conversation, you know what it is..), you should share it with someone- today, tomorrow, very soon. You never think someone like David Bowie would die. As if death is too mundane for the likes of him. But in the end we're all just stardust. Just think though- someday your dust will be mixed with his dust and who knows what that will do?
David Bowie has a story written about him by Neil Gaiman, another one of the great artists. You should have a read.
Yoshitako Amano, The White Duke
This particular edition of Fangirl is over someone I admire a great deal and wouldn't mind being a little more like her. She's a vegan artist who rescues animals. Her name is Cynthia Von Buhler. She's a gorgeous painter, writer, illustrator, producer, etc..seriously there's not much creatively she does not do. She's kind enough to have added me to her Facebook page and has on occasion even commented to me on there. I would love for her to someday illustrate one of my story books. She travels the world and encourages people to be kind to one another. For her 50th birthday she wore a dress that was an actual cake! A CAKE! I mean honestly, how awesome. I might add her apartment and other home is gorgeous. She's very much a DIY person which I really love.
Here are some pictures of her in her cake dress, her paintings and other projects. I encourage you to look her up, she's lovely.
*images from her blog, Amazon and Pinterest
Massive house clean out which happens every January is underway. It never fails to lead to some funny rediscoveries. My 5th grade art project I made when I was bored. Won 1st place in the Art Fair at my school. Noah's Ark. The following year in 6th grade I was president of the dinosaur club and a library volunteer wherein I read every book in the library. Also, secretary of the Model Rocketry Club. Noah lost, Science won.
One thing that certainly stands out about last year is a lot of really great things put into my face hole known as a mouth. Eating vegan has never been easier and the Twin Cities especially Minneapolis is turning into a haven for good vegan food. This is a picture heavy post because well, there's a lot of good stuff around now!
My favorite breakfast in town is hands down at the Modern Times Cafe. It's kale, tempeh, tofu covered in garlic tahini sauce. They also have a solid soy mocha.
My favorite new discovery is Nico's Taco Bar. I love the cactus tostada! Make sure to get salsa trios as well.
A dish at my favorite fine dining restaurant, Jasmine 26. The Basil noodles are light and flavorful. Make sure you also start with the Salt-n-Pepper Tofu, you'll be glad you did.
Truth be told, my love for Glam Doll Donuts has been tested this year. The maple vegan bar (shown above) is amazing but more than once I have gotten terrible vegan donuts there. Tiny, undercooked, dry. I am trying to cut them some slack as they learn to adapt because having a donut shop I like is fun.
The mind-blowing food revelation in town this year was learning you can get vegan gelato at the Mall of America. Paciugo has a fabulous Limoncello gelato as well as many other soy and water based flavors. What a great surprise!
This completely amazingly yummy waffle dessert comes from Kitty Corner Cafe. I can't decide whether I wish I lived closer to it or further away. I want to go here more often. I shouldn't. You should.
I love veggie sushi and Japanese food but most places are terrible at the vegan versions. This year I found two places I liked. The first is Masu. This is the veggie caterpillar. It's cute, delicious and the wasabi is actually strong. Often it is not. I like it ass-kicking. I wouldn't say it's that strong but it's better than most.
The second Japanese place I liked this year was Midori's Floating World Cafe. First, the name...lovely. Second, the food was fresh and perfect. Third, the service was pretty dreadful. It took forever to get our food and we didn't get to eat together. There are pretty decorations to look at as you grumpily wait so there's that.
Honorable mention Japanese is Unideli at United Noodle. The tiny spot in the store has great Vegan Shoyu and there's tons of it.
Favorite new fast dinner spot (or lunch) is Hot Indian Foods in the Midtown Global Market. The Vegan Channa is surprisingly delicious. I say surprising because Indian food is such an art and I don't expect too much from a tiny stand. My bad. You can get it in a fried bread wrap which is insanely decadent(or without like pictured here) but it melts in your mouth. The Indi-frites have a unique spice on them. The sauce they are served with is not vegan but ask for hot sauce with them instead, they make their own and it's out of this world.
This thing of beauty is an artful vegan pizza from Pizza Nea. My newest pizza discovery lead me to a long time spot that is perfect for a date with wine and romantic lighting. They teamed up with local vegan butcher shop The Herbivorous Butcher to make most of their pizzas available in vegan versions. The faux mozzarella is the best I've ever had.
I had two rediscoveries this year. The first being Harry Signh's. This simple rice and beans dish is so good and so hot you would not even believe it. There is a lot of vegan options here and I will warn you: my tolerance is very high and I find this food spicy as hell. It's really AWESOME.
My second rediscovered spot is Sen Yai-Sen Lek. I love the Tofu Peanut Satay. They are a community minded place with a seasonal menu and lots of good intentions. The Tofu Basil dish is also worth having.
There are plenty of places I could add but these were the new stand-outs this year for the most part.
As the new year starts and lots of people try out being vegan especially here: There's tons of places to go out.
2015 was a very mixed year for me. I cannot say that everything went super great by any means. I know that blogs are supposed to be fantasy filled things but the truth of a fairy tale is there are plenty of challenging tasks before you get to the balls, pretty dresses and parties. You can walk through the magic garden but get stung by a bee or pricked by a rose. The fae forest is beautiful but treacherous and filled with your tasks you need to survive to get to your happy ending for that chapter. That is what a real fairy tale is: filled with gorgeous gowns and difficult days.
I lost both my cats in 2015. That had a big impact on me as they were both sick and one especially was unexpected.
I did complete writing two novels including one during the November NaNoWriMo Challenge.
I got to see the Grand Canyon for the first time and hike the Gunflint Trail in Northern Minnesota. I also visited the Wisconsin Dells which is a place I’ve always been curious about. We went close to the end of the season so it was not quite as lively as it gets but it sure was surrealistic while I was there. I spent a week living in non-reality in Las Vegas where I got to see three Cirque Du Soleil shows in one week and eat amazing food everyday.
There were a lot of house projects. They were tiring and trying but now my kitchen is beautifully updated and it was not planned for it to be for some time yet. It’s such a pleasure to look at it now. All the exhaustive weeks of dealing with it have yielded a rich, warm place.
I went out to a pizza farm in Northfield, MN. I liked doing that as well as visited a few more wineries around the state.
A handsome black kitty broke into my house which was funny.
There were foxes overtaking the neighborhood much to my delight.
I spent 30 days in a row giving something away every day. I ended up giving a way quite a lot of stuff this last year and starting in on my Wear What You Own project (more on that later). Car loads of things were given away. I don’t even know half the time where all this stuff comes from but it was nice to recycle and find good homes for things.
I did start a couple of clothing consignment accounts as well. I gave away half my wardrobe before it occurred to me I would probably need things in the future so getting a little money back here and there wouldn’t be a bad thing.
I had my first garden on my deck this year. It started off really well and then I left someone else to tend it. Well, it ended up ruined and I was pretty frustrated but I am going to try again this year with a bit of a better plan. I did see lots of bees, birds and butterflies out there so it succeeded for a while.
I got in one round of snow tubing with friends. That is always fun plus, I adore my friend’s 9 year old daughter. She cracks me up and is quite the daredevil.
I took lots of walks in the fall and attended NerdCon here in town with the Green brothers, Maureen Johnson, Stephanie Perkins and a lot of other great writers. It was so inspiring it got me to do the NaNoWriMo challenge.
I had my second book release party in July at CONvergence and adopted three cats who are driving me nuts. So much so the kitten’s name has officially been changed to Trouble.
Those are a few of my notable moments. There was also lots of good food and books but those are separate posts!