Monday, August 31, 2015

2015 Minnesota State Fair

Jimmy and I took a Parker-less trip to the state fair on Saturday.  It was lined up to be a gorgeous day!  A little chilly when we walked in, but not too bad.
We go to the fair mainly for the food, but I enjoy walking around and looking at all the booths.  Jimmy usually isn't a big fan of my perusing, but he found one thing he liked this year!  I may have to try to make a version of this for him!
 We came across two MN Twins players doing a radio interview, Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton.  I don't recall if I shared on here about, but Buxton is my maiden name, so I was super excited when we drafted Byron a few years ago.  He was finally called up this year so I sprung for his t-shirt!  I almost wore it to the fair and I wish I would have.  After the interview they came out and started taking pictures.
 It was so amazing to meet two of our best players!  Definitely a moment to remember!
 We walked through the creative arts building next.  I love that they have a huge snickerdoodle cookie challenge divided by age groups.  If only the challenge was to eat all the cookies...count me in!
 One of our last stops was looking at ATVs.  Jimmy has become quite the fan over the last few years.  This one has twice the power of what he is used to riding, might be a bit too much for him, and our neighborhood!
 Of course it isn't the fair without food!  Here is the rundown:
Mini Cinnamon Rolls
Cheese Curds
Sweet Martha's Cookies
Papa Pup (foot-long Pronto Pup)
Cowboy Bites (corn, bacon, jalapeno and cream cheese)
Lefse (our friends make it better, glad it was only $3)
FREE ice cream sandwich
Crab Fritters
Another great day at the Great Minnesota Get-Together!  We are already planning the menu for next year.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Big Birthday Fun!

Besides our trip to Canada, we had a ton of fun celebrating the big 3-0 and 3-5 at home!  We got our free Benihana the week before with Jimmy's parents  Parker enjoyed the show and the chef hat.
Jimmy surprised me with an awesome birthday gift a week early.  He made a very sweet video telling how much he and Parker love and appreciate me, then played the video below.  I immediately recognized the tune as one from the original MacBook Air ads. 
 But, I was still surprised to see Jimmy come around the corner with an Apple bag.  He got an Apple Watch for Father's Day and I was getting pretty jealous.  I figured I would get one eventually, but not for a while.  I was very excited and grateful!
 With all the other festivities, I figured my actual birthday would be pretty tame, but even Google remembered.
 My parents even surprised me at work with flowers and a giant cookie, they are the best.
 Jimmy took me to dinner at Bubba Gump Shrimp Company and made delicious pumpkin bars for dessert.  
I couldn't think of a better way to ring in my 30s!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

More Canada, Eh?

Our Winnipeg adventure continues!  Our sleeping schedules usually flip on vacation and I become the early riser, but I actually slept in on Saturday.  I was a bit bummed because I had a schedule in mind, but it worked out!  We were cruising Yelp for meal ideas and I was excited to see a place call The Nook Diner!  One of our favorite spots back home is called The Nook too!  This was a breakfast joint serving up some killer homestyle eats (that sounded a bit like Guy Fieri.)
 Jimmy got the egg special and I got eggs benedict.  They had some great looking asparagus dishes on the menu, but were out for the weekend.
We visited the Royal Canadian Mint for the morning.  They offer tours for just $4.50!
There are dozens of flags lining the entrance of the mint.  These flag represent many of the countries Canada makes coins for.  Over half of the countries in the world, including the US have some or all of their coins made in Winnipeg!
The Loonie is their one dollar coin, nicknamed for it's trademark loon.  This is also the state bird of Minnesota, so it made up feel right at home.  The original design for the coin actually included two explorers and a canoe.  The master die was lost (or stolen) in transit from Ottawa so the design had to be changed.
They ceased producing the penny in 2012 since it cost 1.5 cents to produce.  Businesses are no longer obligated to accept or distribute pennies and have adopted a system of rounding to the nearest 5 cents for cash transactions.
No pictures were allowed on the tour, but it was really interesting.  We got to see some production and learn about the history of the mint.  All circulation coins are produced at the Winnipeg facility and they have the ability to create up to 15 million coins per day.  They are the largest of the 150 mints in the world.  They are a popular choice for outsourcing because they have material locally available and the productions equipment.  Each minting machine cost $2 million.

The highlight was getting to hold an almost pure gold bar.  It weighed 27 pounds and is worth about $500,000!  If the chain didn't stop you, the armed guard just out of the picture will!
The Forks is a 14 acre center of arts and entertainment.  People have been gathering on this site for thousands of years.  Two major rivers, the Red and Assiniboine, converge at this site.
We took a boat tour to learn more about the history of the rivers and the city.  Winnipeg floods every year, an unfortunate side effect of a north flowing river.  They hit the blue line every year, that is 12' above the current water level.  They can easily handle water at the yellow line, but the red line is where things get tricky.  They have hit that mark two times in relatively recent history.  Winnipeg add a floodway around the city in the late 60's to divert water at peak times.  Despite these efforts, the city was at capacity during the big flood of 1997.  They have since expanded the floodway to accommodate even more water.
The Manitoba Legislature Building was built in the early 1900's and is an example of the hermetic code as practices by the masons.
Saint Boniface Cathedral was built in 1906.  A fire in 1968 destroyed everything but the facade.  The hole in the center house a huge stained glass piece.  It exploded in the fire and piece were found all the way on the other side of the river.
Lunch was at Fergie's Fish and Chips in the Forks Market.  It was probably some of the best we have ever had!  The seafood chowder was amazing as well, right up with the stuff we had in Seattle.  I really need to find a local place to get this stuff!
We headed back to the hotel for a relaxing swim in the rooftop pool.  It was very refreshing on the hot steamy day.
We took another stroll around town after a quick nap, then grabbed lunch at the hotel restaurant.  I couldn't resist another plate of poutine and Jimmy had been craving Salmon for days!
We woke up early on Sunday to head home.  A quick stop at the duty-free shop (to spend the leftover money) at the border and we were home free!  It was a great trip and we hope to visit again some day!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Canada, Eh?

Jimmy and I went on a Canadian adventure last weekend to celebrate our birthday (35 and 30 respectively.)  Parker stayed with my parents and we hit the road for Winnipeg bright and shiny Friday morning.
 We made a quick stop for breakfast in Sauk Center (gotta love the food pictures!)
 We also stopped in Fergus Falls for a few quirky tourist spots.  The first was the continental divide marker.  They also have a statue of a Buffalo and a tepee.
 The main attraction was Otto, the otter!  He is 40 feet long and was constructed over 40 years ago by high school students.
 We were back on the road in no time.  I have known for a while that there is a town called " Buxton" in North Dakota, but forgot about it until we started seeing signs.  It is right off the freeway so we had to stop there as well!  It was little more than a dot on the map, but we were able to get some refreshments.
 We got to the border just before 1 pm and only had about a 10 minute wait.  Neither one of us has been to Canada, so we weren't sure what to expect.  They ask you several pertinent questions about your trip, which made sense.  Then they asked a few random ones, I assume they are trying to throw off anyone with questionable intentions.

Winnipeg was not too far from the border and we were at our first stop just before 3pm.  Of course it was the Apple Store!  You may know about our love for Apple and I couldn't pass of the chance to visit our first international store.  It was your pretty basic mall store front, but it was fun to be there.  We were thinking about buying something, but the prices were higher (even with a great exchange rate) and they had 13% tax!  Ouch!
 We grabbed a very late lunch at the food court.  I was dying to try some poutine (fries, cheese curds, brown gravy) and we got the chance with New York Fries.  The original is on the left, but the real stunner was the braised beef.  I already have plans to recreate it at home!
 We checked into our downtown hotel just before 5 and relaxed for a while.
 We had turned our data off to avoid international charges, but were able to Facetime with Parker and my parents on the hotel wifi.  It was a hot and steamy weekend, so he was having fun swimming in the pool!
 One of the first things I noticed about Canada is how polite everyone and everything is.  They say sorry a lot, even when something isn't their fault.  Even the buses apologize for not being in service.  My favorite was a political "attack" ad for the prime minister elections.  After listing a bunch of reasons not to elect a candidate, the final sentence was "I'm not saying never, but not now."  If only US elections could be that kind.
 We took a quick walk before grabbing dinner near our hotel.  The MTS Centre was just a block north.  This is where the Winnipeg Jets play.  We hope to get back again to catch a Wild game, but that will probably be a few years.
 Dinner was at Boston Pizza.  It seems they like to name things after US locations, but are very proud to be Canadian.  Jimmy had a Montreal smoked meat which had mozzarella, mustard and pickle.  It didn't specify the meat, but Jimmy said it was somewhere between pastrami and corned beef.
 I had the signature pizza burger.  A prime rib patty with sauce, cheese, bacon and pepperoni!
It was back to the hotel to rest and get ready for the whirlwind Saturday ahead.

Up Next: More Canada, Eh?