Spent this weekend in Minneapolis/St. Paul with B. We recently celebrated three years of legally-recognized togetherness (not to mention four years of dating before that), and so we were ready to get out of Dodge. Work had kept us from doing this sooner, but it was well worth the wait.
We left Friday afternoon and drove to Bloomington. Our reservations for the weekend were at Sofitel Minneapolis, and I would recommend them to anyone staying in the MSP/SP area. They are right on 494, so it makes it really easy to get to and from everywhere you're going. Plus, the rooms are wonderful, especially the beds! Down comforters and pillows - AHHHH, the best I've slept in since staying at the Gateway Center in Ames, IA a gazillion years ago! (http://www.gatewayames.com/index.html to get to the Gateway Center's site, http://www.sofitel.com/sofitel/fichehotel/gb/sof/0539/fiche_hotel.shtml for Sofitel) Plus, Sofitel has kinda funky modern furnishings and wonderful restaurant and bakery. Really great stay! (Confidential to R. L. - now that you work there, I'd be game for some discounts!! :))
But possibly the highlight of the trip for B, as well as for myself was dinner Friday night at Ruth's Chris Steak House. WORTH EVERY PENNY!! The food was wonderful, the service was great, and the pomegranate martini brought tears to my eyes! B was a little apprehensive about going there, considering their pretty expensive menu, but we both agreed it was money well spent after a fantastic meal. B had steak and shrimp (sizzling in butter at 500+ degrees when it comes to the table), and I came away with stuffed chicken breast, which came butterflied, bone-in. They serve the sides separately, but as "family style," so we ordered mashed potatoes and mushrooms. B committed the ultimate family blasphemy by saying they were the best mashed potatoes he's ever eaten, but I totally agreed with him, Grandma N's included. Creamy and buttery - all they needed was a pinch of pepper and a fork! Highly, highly recommended for anyone who would like a five-star dining experience. Just stay away from the 100-year-old Remy Martin at $115/drink if you're counting the pennies!
After dinner Friday we high-tailed it over to the Ordway for a performance of Love, Janis, a musical based on the life of Janis Joplin and the book of the same name written by Joplin's sister Laura. The musical interspersed letters Janis wrote to her family, interviews given to various magazines, and songs from her records, and there were two actresses portraying her simultaneously - one doing the singing, one doing the letters, and each taking turns during the interviews. I didn't know how this was going to be, but it had gotten great reviews in the Pioneer Press, and I love Janis Joplin, so I bit. Turns out it was the right thing to do. We ended up with great seats (about 12 ft from the stage) and the show was electric! I've seen the footage of Janis at Woodstock, and read enough about her to know that these ladies who played her were spot on perfect. Even B was impressed, and he was really excited halfway through the first song ("Piece of My Heart") when he realized he might know some of these songs! Plus, they did "Mercedes Benz" as a singalong with the audience! It was a blast. B really liked the two 55+ drunk ladies in front of us that kept standing up and dancing during the songs. Highly amusing! ;)
Saturday was a lazy day, with nothing really planned until afternoon. Since we were already in Bloomington, we spent most of the morning at the Mall of America. We went to the Underwater Aquarium, which I haven't done since I was in grade school, and lucked out enough to be going through the tunnel as they were feeding the sharks! Pretty cool when they're thrashing about right in front of your face! As we emerged from the Aquarium, we noticed a bunch of little girls with fake curly hair running around. Turns out there was a huge Irish dance festival at the mall kicking off St. Patrick's Day week, and there were 5 different Irish step dancing schools that were doing performances until 6:30 that evening! So we watched for a while, along with half the mall! They had one little girl who was five, and she did a solo number out in front of all these people - and there must have been 500+ on all three levels. It was pretty amazing, and they were all really good. I would kill for the thigh muscles of some of those dancers!
B had a first this weekend. His back was bothering him on Saturday at the mall, so when we walked by the Aquamassage store, I told him to get one. He spent 10 minutes in there, and he said it was weird, but it really helped. I was really surprised he did it, but glad he did at the same time. If you've never had an Aquamassage, treat yourself sometime. It's a bit of a trip. However, do not attempt if you are claustrophobic. Could be a little scary for you...
Saturday afternoon was back to the Ordway for a performance of Lerner and Lowe's Camelot. I had never seen this show, and barely knew any of the songs, but again, was really glad we went. Not as exciting as Janis, but still really good. And the chick that sang Guenevere's part - holy crap. Her name was Rachel York (http://www.rachelyork.net/ - check the website for some of her songs - they play in the background after the site is loaded) and she was about as big around as my left leg, but she must have been pulling that sound from her ankles. She rocked! Michael York (no relation) was King Arthur (he's best known to our generation for his part as Basil Exposition in Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me), and while his acting was good, his singing was quiet, and not articulate enough/too British to allow you to catch every word, even though all principals were mic'd. (For a picture of Mike, check his website: http://www.michaelyork.net/)
After the show, we went to Cossetta's at B's request. He loves the place for the food, I love it for the ambiance and the great Italian market. Real prosciutto is a pleasure close to heaven! We (luckily) got a table right at the top of the stairs overlooking the line, so it was fun to eat and people watch. Minnesota was having its high school hockey championship this weekend, so there were a lot of crazy hockey fans eating pizza, since Cossetta's is only a couple blocks from the Xcel Center. Picked up a couple cans of pepperocinis and hot peppers for gifts, and then the rest of the evening was spent chilling out at the hotel watching The Bourne Conspiracy.
Sunday morning we grabbed a couple rolls from the fabulous Sofitel bakery and packed up our stuff. We set out for Grand Ave, and had ham & asparagus quiche and coffee at Cafe Latte before going to Pottery Barn and Smith & Hawken. The day was a triumph for me. I finally bought a terrarium. I have wanted one forever, and they had standing ones at Smith & Hawken that caught my eye at Christmastime. I received a birthday gift card from my parents for S&H, and it had been earmarked for this purchase for quite a while. Needless to say, setting it up was the first thing I did when I got home. For now I'm going to use it to rehab an ivy and an orchid I have that could use a little TLC, but soon it will be host to plants of its own, most likely a couple small ferns. It's tall enough for a Phalenopsis, so maybe another of those as well. Who knows?
Before I wrap up this LONG post, I have to, for your amusement, post another B first. We stopped by Dick's Sporting Goods at Tamarack to look for a birthday present, and B spied the climbing wall. Now, for those of you who remember, first-year students at Wartburg got the opportunity to go climbing at the UNI wall many moons ago. So I have been rock climbing. B has not. He decided to go today (along with ten or so obnoxious little kids who had terribly little supervision or decibel control). Can I explain to you how funny it was to see the 6.5 ft husband in climbing gear hanging from the wall next to a seven-year-old? And did I mention they didn't have a pair of climbing shoes big enough for him? He had to squeeze into a 13, which is what he normally would wear, except for the fact that climbing shoes run a size small. I apologize profusely for not having pictures. My intentions were to take some, however, my camera batteries had other ideas. You'll have to paint a mental picture, and trust me, now matter how odd that picture may seem, it's most likely accurate!
The last part of our afternoon was too painful and raw for me to post about now. Suffice it to say we had the best and POSITIVELY WORST dining experiences of our lives this weekend. More explanation to come. But for now, unpacking and laundry.