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Thursday, December 31, 2015



***How are you welcoming in the new year?


Here's a look at a few of the Christmas Trees found 
throughout the city this Holiday Season.

In the atrium of the IDS Center.

The City Center.

A downtown hotel.

The Eugene Carpenter Mansion Bed And Breakfast.

The American Swedish Institute.

***What were some of your favorite trees in your area?

Tuesday, December 29, 2015


The holidays wouldn't be the holidays, without a production of the Nutcracker, and each year Minneapolitans look forward to Minnesota Dance Theater's production of Loyce Houlton's Nutcracker Fantasy. The show is performed at the historic State Theater, and Houlton's engaging choreography, brings Tchaikovsky's music alive in a new and vibrant way, providing a truly magical and spectacular evening.

The State Theater's interior is truly beautiful.

I attended this performance for the first time this year. My friend Anton, who is an amazing dancer and dances professionally, danced the role of the prince in this production, and so I went to see him.  Actually I've wanted to see this show for some time now, and the fact that Anton was dancing in it gave me the incentive to make it happen this the year.  I was not disappointed.

Anton, post-performance.

I love watching Anton dance, and have seen him perform with a couple of different companies here in the Twin Cities. His performance in the Nutcracker Fantasy was simply superb, and the production was definitely a highlight of my holiday season.

***Do you have a favorite production of the Nutcracker?

Monday, December 28, 2015


One of my holiday traditions each year, is attending The Rose Ensemble's Christmas Concert. I've gone to it almost every year since moving to Minneapolis, and must admit that I've become somewhat of a Rose Ensemble groupie.

This year's Concert featured Baroque Christmas music from the Mdina Cathedral on Malta, and was spectacular. It was definitely one of my favorite Rose Ensemble performances that I've seen. The music soared through the beautiful interior of The Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis, creating a magnificent environment that seemed to both transcend, and soothe the soul. One of my favorite songs was Il-presepju tan-Milied, a piece specially commissioned for this concert, and the only selection sung in the Maltese language. It was simply beautiful.

I have a been a huge fan of the Rose Ensemble for many years now, and look forward to their Christmas concert each year. Founder/Artistic and Executive Director, Jordan Sramek's knowledge, combined with the musical talent of the group members, guarantees a performance of the highest quality, and an evening that you will remember for years to come.

***What are your favorite annual holidays concerts?

Saturday, December 26, 2015


This is always a busy time of year for me at work, and between that, and hosting Christmas dinner for friends, I wasn't able to post my Christmas Bow Tie Friday tie yesterday.

Last January while shopping the "after Christmas" sales, I found this wonderful holiday bow tie at the Brooks Brothers store in the Eagan Outlet Mall, and have saved it all year for for my Christmas outfit. I loved this tie for it's simplicity, while still adding a bit of fun to my outfit.   The background is a deep red, almost burgundy color, with presents, holly, and candy canes scatter about. Simple, yet elegant and fun.

I have worn Brooks Brothers bow ties for Christmas for three years now.  The previous years were different color versions of their Signature Tartan which I love, so this tie was a fun change of pace. When it comes to holiday bow ties, Brooks Brothers never misses the mark.

What I wore for Christmas:                  
               Yellow Shirt:  Jos. A. Banks
               Navy Sweater:  Brooks Brothers Merino Wool              
               Christmas bow Tie:  Brooks Brothers 

***Tell me about your Christmas tie this year.

Thursday, December 24, 2015


My friends at Mill City Fineries have been part of a pop-up shop at the Mall Of America since Black Friday. For the past month, several local small Minnesota businesses have shared a storefront (near Sears on first floor) encouraging shoppers to shop local, and support small business. Both of these things are important to me which is why I love supporting Mill City Fineries. They are one of two local bow tie manufactures that I frequent often.

Thier new holiday bow ties . . .

. . . Were fantastic.

I purchased my first Mill City bow tie two years ago, and have been a regular customer ever since. Over the years, their product line has expanded to include long ties and pocket squares, all staples for any well dressed gent's wardrobe, and this year they have added a beautiful line of scarves, all held to the same high standard of quality that that their bow ties meet.  

For some time now, their long ties . . .

. . . And pocket squares have been staples in their collection.

Mill Citty owners, Matt Brunnette and Brad Wellman, source fabrics from around the world to create their small batch ties, which guarantees that you will not show up at your next holiday party wearing the same tie as everyone else - unless you've placed a custom wedding order. I love their choices of fabrics and combinations and have never been disappointed with their products.

Andy was kind enough to show me some of their new products . . .

. . . Including this great new line of scarves.

Mill City Fineries will be at MOA through this Sunday, December 27.  If you haven't had a chance to check them out yet, I suggest you stop by and see them. What better way to reflect the true Holiday Spirit in your gift giving, than to support local small businesses?

***Which local mall businesses do you support?

Monday, December 21, 2015


In the Sacred Darkness new life is birthed!

***What are you doing to celebrate the Winter Solstice?

Sunday, December 20, 2015


Today is the fourth, and final, Sunday of Advent.  Christmas awaits us.

***What things have you done to prepare for Christmas?

Saturday, December 19, 2015


It's been two years now since Minneapolis decided to end the Holidazzle Parade, and the plan was to come up with something fresh and new.  Last year that plan came to fruition in the form of the Holidazzle Market.  The market was planned along the lines of the German Christmas Markets that pop up in cites throughout the world, and have been successful in several U.S. cites. That success, however, has not found it's way to Minneapolis yet.

Robert and Cynthia loved . . .

 . . . The penguin cutout . . .

. . . While Gary preferred the polar bear . . .

. . . And the Abominable Snowman.

A magic snowball.

Last year's Market, for all of its issues, did show potential to grow into something pretty cool. Unfortunately, I didn't see that same potential this year. Last year the market was staged on Nicolette Mall (home of the Holidazlle Parade for years), and included booths with alpine fronts, which gave an "old world" charm and feel to the event, along with areas set aside to enjoy your food and beverages, and a stage for entertainment.  Overhead, strings of lights glowed and each booth was illuminated by a lovely lighted star.  The effect added to the romance of that "old world" charm.

Every true Minnesota event must include cheese curds . . .

. . . And mini donuts!

Local choirs provide music throughout the day.

This year's market was held in Loring Park, due to a two year redesign project for Nicolette Mall, which I thought it would be a much better setting for the event. I was wrong. In changing the venue, all of the wonderful "old world" charm was lost.  Rather than a cluster of alpine booths surrounding a stage, we were treated to white tarp tents, with a stage set off to the side on a hill.  The eating areas were absent also. While Loring Park should have provided much more conducive home for the market, the event's coordinators didn't seem to take advantage of that. It was a plus though to see that all of the vendors were local, including a number of small businesses.

Food building provided local cheese from The Lone Grazer Creamery, 
and local meat from Red Table Meat Co..

Beautiful throws from Faribault Woolen Mill.

Love Your Melon Hat Company donates much of their proceeds to cancer research.

The lake in Loring Park.

There were a number of problems with last year's market, but it was the first year for the event, and people could see the potential of what it could become.  Rather than moving forward, building on that potential, this year's market seemed to be two steps backwards.  I applaud the city for wanting to find something fresh and new, but I'm not sure how committed they are to that cause. The Christmas Market is a great idea, but they have to do it better.

***Do you have Christmas Markets in your area?