Category Archives: Events

Free Twin Cities Events This Month

St. Paul Winter Carnival features ice sculptures, palaces, as well as live entertainment and many activities such as horse racing. There will also be the annual treasure medallion hunt. The finders are awarded with prizes.
When: Thursday, Jan 28 – Sunday, Feb 7
Tickets/Price: Free and open to the public.

Family Concert: Melody, Harmony, and Rhythm, Oh My! It’s a 50 minute event for kids age 6-12, where they will learn all about harmony and rhythms.
When: Saturday, February 6, 9:30 AM and 11:00 AM
Tickets/Price: Free tickets, register here.

Art Shanty Project is an annual event, where you can see  interactive ice houses and enjoy a variety of events such as dance parties, theater and live music.
When: Saturday, February 6 through February 28
Tickets/Price: Free

Fire and Ice Winter Festival is a fun event including ice fishing contests, sled-dog rides, skating, skiing and snowshoeing. You will also enjoy other entertainment, a bonfire, and fireworks.
When: Saturday, February 6, 3-7PM
Tickets/Price: Free

Valentine’s Day Skating Party. Since V-day is around the corner, you might want to register for this event. There will be DJ’s playing music; also, hot beverages and supplies for skaters will be provided!
When: Sunday, February 14, 1-3PM
Tickets/Price: Free, register here.


Flickr Creative Commons: Mack Male (CC BY-SA 2.0)
All photos used under this license.


New Year’s Resolutions for New Homeowners

As 2015 comes to a close, many of us are making resolutions for the new year. To eat more healthily, exercise more often, and become more financially responsible are among the common pledges year after year. However, if you just became a first time homebuyer recently, we have a few special recommendations to put on your resolutions list this year to ensure an enjoyable experience as a new homeowner in 2016. 

Flickr Creative Commons: oddharmonic (CC BY-SA 2.0); Edited

1. Keep up with your seasonal maintenance.

In case you haven’t realized it yet, owning a home is a lot different than renting. One of the reasons is that your house will require much more maintenance (especially if you previously lived in an apartment), and now repairs and fixes are your responsibility. If you’ve only owned your home for a few weeks or months, you probably haven’t yet had the chance to deal with it in all types of weather, meaning there’s an element of the unexpected waiting for you in the new year. With the changing of seasons, there’s always something that needs to be checked on or updated to make sure it is functioning to the best of its ability. Taking care of these items in advance will save you a lot of time and money down the road. Don’t know which projects need to be completed when? Contact us to request a copy of our handy seasonal home maintenance guide.

2. Experiment with a new color scheme.

There’s a good chance that you did some painting when you first moved in, in order to personalize your home to your preferred style and that’s great! But with the new year approaching, it’s always a good idea to consider some change, and a fresh coat of paint is just like getting yourself a new haircut. Whether you’re thinking about a subtle shade change for your bedroom walls or a complete makeover for your kitchen, this is the time to go for it. And since Pantone just named their new colors of the year, perhaps these might be some options for you to consider (especially if you’re planning to welcome a new bundle of joy in 2016)? Or, if you’re not quite willing to commit to new paint, try adding some visual interest via trendy accent pieces, such as tribal print artwork and accessories

Flickr Creative Commons: Christian Bros Cabinets (CC BY 2.0)

Flickr Creative Commons: Christian Bros Cabinets (CC BY 2.0)

3. Splurge…a little.

Buying a home is probably one of the biggest investments you’ll make in your life, and right now your wallet might be feeling a bit light. But as you get used to making your mortgage payments, they won’t feel like they’re making such a big dent anymore. You’ll then realize you might want to spend a little more to make your home feel complete. Don’t get us wrong – we’re not advising you to install the most tricked out home theater system you can imagine or a fish tank the size of your old apartment bathroom. However, we are encouraging you to treat yourself to that fancy vacuum you’ve had your eye on for months or a new dining room set that will go with those gleaming hardwood floors. After all, this is your house to do whatever you want with now, and you want to make it feel like your home, which might just mean adding a few indulgent creature comforts. You’ve worked hard to be able to call yourself a homeowner, so treat yourself!

4. Stay in touch with your real estate agent or broker.

You just spent three or four months talking with your agent nearly every single day and, perhaps, seeing them on a weekly basis for showings. But after closing…well, *crickets chirping*. Believe it or not, your agent will notice your absence in his or her life! Many agents grow fond of their clients throughout the home buying process and end up missing them once the search is over. Of course, they understand that you’re busy moving in and getting settled, but most would love to have a quick conversation every so often to hear about how you’re loving your shorter commute or new neighborhood hotspots.  While many agents do their best to check in periodically after closing, it sometime gets a little hard with numerous beloved clients to stay in touch with. You can help get the convo started by sending your agent some photos of the improvements you’ve made since moving in or by asking for a referral to the best snow shoveler in town. Good agents make it their business to establish connections with trusted service providers in the area, so this should be no problem. 

Do you have any new homeowner resolutions to add to our list? If so, let us know in the comments! And Happy New Year, everybody!


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Mall of America Holiday Shopping


Flickr Creative Commons: Aine

Mall of America is the largest mall in America, hence the name. The mall is so big that 7 Yankee Stadiums could fit in it, or 32 Boeing 747’s. So if you are looking to shopping, for any reason, and you are in the area, MOA is where it is at.


Flickr Creative Commons: Random Retail

This holiday season, if you are looking to pick up any holiday gifts for the loved ones, then shop at MOA. It has 520+ stores, so you can find that little something for anyone, even if they are hard to shop for. If you have ever been to MOA, you may have noticed that the temperature never changes, it is always 70 degrees, no matter if it is winter or summer.

If you are searching for that empty parking spot and you can not find one, just remember, you are not alone, someone else is searching for one of 12,550 car filled spaces. Moreover, MOA will always looks clean, especially with a trash-less floor, thanks to the 11,000 year round employees and 2,000 bonus employees during the holidays.


Flickr Creative Commons: Ted

Have you ever thought, if you went holiday shopping, and you wanted to look in every store at MOA, how long would it take? According to MOA facts, assuming, you spent 10 minutes in each store, it would take you 86 hours! If you like to ride rides, you are in luck. While you are at MOA, check out Nickelodeon Universe, you will see lots of greenery; well, at least 30,000+ live plants and 400 live trees climbing as high as 35 feet. It took 65 semi-trucks to transport all those trees.

In the event you are holiday shopping at MOA, appreciate every detail the mall has to offer, like the 4.87 million square feet, which is enough to fit 258 statue of liberties. Just remember, next time you are in the state of 10,000+ lakes, whether you are local or not-so local. Be happy that you are in the largest mall that America has to offer with a wide vanity of shopping sections.

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10 Christmas Light Tips to Save Time, Money, and (Possibly) Your Life

10 Christmas Light Tips to Save Time, Money, and (Possibly) Your Life

By: Lisa Kaplan Gordon

Here’s how to light up your Christmas light display safely and economically.

Christmas lights can be modest displays to show good cheer, or million-bulb light-apaloozas that draw gawkers from near and far. Here are some tips on how to get the most from — and spend the least on — your holiday display.

1. Safety first. Emergency rooms are filled with homeowners who lose fights with their holiday lights and fall off ladders or suffer electric shocks. To avoid the holiday black and blues, never hang lights solo; instead, work with a partner who holds the ladder. Also, avoid climbing on roofs after rain or snow.

2. Unpack carefully. Lights break and glass cuts. So unpack your lights gingerly, looking for and replacing broken bulbs along the way.

3. Extension cords are your friends. Splurge on heavy-duty extension cords that are UL-listed for outdoor use. To avoid overloading, only link five strings of lights together before plugging into an extension cord.

4. LEDs cost less to light. LED Christmas lights use roughly 70% to 90% less energy and last up to 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs. You can safely connect many more LED light strings than incandescents. Downside: Some think they don’t burn as brightly as incandescent bulbs.

5. Solar lights cost nothing to run. Solar Christmas lights are roughly four times more expensive to buy than LEDs, but they cost zero to run. They’re a bright-burning, green alternative. Downside: If there’s no sun during the day, there’s no light at night. The jury’s also still out on how long they last; they’re too new on the market for results.

6. Dismantle lights sooner than later. Sun, wind, rain, and snow all take their toll on Christmas lights. To extend the life of lights, take them down immediately after the holidays. The longer you leave the up, the sooner you’ll have to replace them.

7. Plan next year’s display on Dec. 26. Shop the after-Christmas sales to get the best prices on lights and blowups that you can proudly display next year. Stock up on your favorite lights so you’ll have spares when you need them (and after they’re discontinued).

8. Permanent attachments save time. If you know you’ll always hang lights from eaves, install permanent light clips ($13 for 75 clips) that will save you hanging time each year. You’ll get a couple/three years out of the clips before sun eats the plastic.

9. Find those blueprints. Instead of guessing how many light strings you’ll need, or measuring with a tape, dig up your house blueprints or house location drawings (probably with your closing papers) and use those measurements as a guide.

10. Store them in a ball. It sounds counterintuitive, but the best way to store lights is to ball them up. Wrap five times in one direction, then turn the ball 90 degrees and repeat. Store your light balls in cardboard boxes, rather than in plastic bags: Cardboard absorbs residual moisture and extends the life of your lights.


All photos used under this license. Flickr Creative Commons: Abigail Batchelder

Celebrities Who Do Not Celebrate Thanksgiving


Flickr Creative Commons: Gage Skidmore

One of the celebrities who doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving is Angelina Jolie, who is known for her charity work and helping people form other cultures. She believes that the history behind the holiday is against her beliefs.

Cher also does not celebrate for the same reasons as Jolie. She said that it is time for her family to get together and watch movies, but not to celebrate.


Flickr Creative Commons: David Caroll

Unlike first two, Zooey Deschanel is not bothered by the holiday history much, but mostly about Thanksgiving food. She doesn’t like the color of the food, according to her, it doesn’t look appetizing. But she does like the fact that it’s time for the whole family to get together.

Alicia Silverstone is not against the holiday itself, but since she is a vegan, she does not like the “turkey” part of the holiday. She has her own food website with animal-friendly recipes.

THE 2015 AMERICAN MUSIC AWARDS(r) - The “2015 American Music Awards,” which will broadcast live from the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles on Sunday, November 22 at 8:00pm ET on ABC. (Image Group LA/ABC) ALICIA SILVERSTONE

Flickr Creative Commons: ABC Television Group Photostream

Mayim Bialik, the “Big Bang Theory” star, is also a vegan, and she does like the holiday except the Black Friday shopping. She avoids going to stores until after the holiday season.

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Family Thanksgiving Traditions

While many families have their own Thanksgiving traditions, there are some that are deep rooted in American history.

So why turkey and not chicken? The first Thanksgiving dinner, back in 1621, included turkey, fish, pumpkin, and squash. Turkeys are big enough to be able to feed the whole family. At that time, chicken and cows were more valuable alive than dead.

Turkey pardon is an annual ritual. It became a tradition since George H.W. Bush decided that the presented to him turkey would not end up on a dinner table and granted a presidential pardon.

Breaking the turkey wishbone is another Thanksgiving tradition. Ancient Romans believed that chicken bones held the power of good fortune, so when pulling apart a wishbone, the good luck came upon the one who got the larger piece.

Football is also a part of Thanksgiving celebration. Back in the day the game was usually between Detroit Lions (Portsmouth Spartans) and Green Bay Packers, now there are more football games on Thanksgiving day.

Parades have been a part of Thanksgiving celebrations since the 20th century. For many people Thanksgiving is the beginning of the holiday shopping season, thus many stores started their promotions by sponsoring parades, such as Macy’s Parade and McDonald’s parade.

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Thanksgiving around the World

Thanksgiving is known to be celebrated in the US and Canada. But, it is also celebrated in other countries such as Liberia, Japan, Netherlands, and the Norfolk Islands.

Since Liberia was founded by freed American slaves, it is the country that traditionally celebrates Thanksgiving and it is celebrated on the first Thursday of November. As a tradition people go to churches and concerts. Then they get together for a dinner, and traditionally they have roasted chicken and mashed cassava.

Thanksgiving is also celebrated in the Netherlands. Before pilgrims settled in Plymouth Rock, they came to Leiden, the Netherlands and lived there for 11 years. One of their traditions is to attend a service in Pieterskerk gothic church. They also have family Thanksgiving dinners where  traditional turkey and mashed potatoes are served.

Thanksgiving in Japan is not celebrated the same as in the US; it used to be a fall harvest festival. Now it is called Labor Day Thanksgiving, when people celebrated workers and thank them for hard work, and it is celebrated around the same time as in the US.

Norfolk Islands used to be a British colony in 19th century; it was a frequent port for many American ships; they brought many american traditions and recipes that fit well with English harvest festival celebrated at the island at that time. Thus, Thanksgiving celebrations have taken root. It is celebrated on the last Wednesday in November. Their traditional Thanksgiving meal is roasted pork, chicken, and baked bananas.

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Sharing a Thanksgiving Meal with Your Pet?

Flickr Creative Commons: geraldbrazell

Flickr Creative Commons: geraldbrazell

Holidays are fast approaching and it is time for many holiday dinners. It is such a fun time for the whole family, but we all know that our little companions will be begging for some table scraps and we won’t be able to resist, but let’s make sure we are careful and avoid giving them harmful foods.

If you feed your pet some turkey, make sure it is well cooked and boneless. Cooked bones splinter, so it is better to avoid giving them poultry or fish bones. Also, turkey should be skinless, since the skin is very fatty and is hard to digest.

This might be a surprise, but onions are toxic to cats and dogs. Eating even 1/4 of a cup can make can make them sick. Eating onions can cause small clumps and red blood cells and might lead to anemia.

As many know, chocolate can be fatal to cats and dogs, but grapes and raisins are toxic to them as well, and can cause kidney damage. It is better to keep all the sweets out of their reach.

If you still give your pet Thanksgiving leftovers, make sure it’s a very small amount of safe food like skinless/boneless turkey, plain carrots, mashed potatoes, or gravy that is free of onion and spices.

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Best Places to Celebrate Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is one of those holidays when people go and visit their family and friends and have at-home dinner together. Maybe it would be a good idea to change things up and have a Thanksgiving weekend getaway. Many cities offer Thanksgiving events, such as festivals, parades, and a variety of festive activities.

Chicago is known for its McDonald’s Thanksgiving parade. It is an annual event that is broadcast live where you can see marching bands, balloons, performances, and celebrity guests. It makes a great event for the whole family. Also, downtown shops make a great place for Black Friday shopping. Here is more information.


Flick Creative Commons: Randy Escalada

Another city that throws a grand parade is New York. Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade also has marching bands, clowns, balloons. Many TV, music, and stage personalities perform, such as Cirque du Soleil, Mariah Carey, and of course there is plenty for shopping and dining.


Flickr Creative Commons: Marit & Toomas Hinnosaar

Grapevine,Texas is known as the “Christmas Capital of Texas”. Thanksgiving starts off holiday celebrations. Here you can see the Light Show Spectacular and the North Pole Express. There are many other things to explore and enjoy in Grapevine. Here is more information on different events and places to go to.

Plymouth, Massachusetts is where America’s Hometown Thanksgiving Parade happens every year.  Various events and activities happen on Thanksgiving, from concerts, performances and historical reenactors to the new England Food Festival. Also, Plimoth Plantation is a great place to experience history and learn about early colonists. Here you can have Thanksgiving buffet or dinner. For tickets and more information click here.


Flickr Creative Commons: Scott Robinson

All photos are used under this license.

Thanksgiving in Minneapolis

Thanksgiving is coming up and everyone is preparing to spend time with their families. There will be a lot of fun activities happening Thanksgiving weekend.

1. Holidazzle is a famous holiday event in the Twin Cities. Parade starts November 27th at 6.30 and runs until the week before Christmas in Minneapolis along Nicollet mall. It is a colorful and cheerful event; it is free and anyone can participate.

2. Wells Fargo Winter Skate is another fun event to go to. This is free and open to everyone to enjoy. The ice skating rink is located in downtown St.Paul. Click here for more information.

3. Taylor Falls Lighting Festival and Parade is an annual lighting festival with art and raft exhibitions, Santa parade, free horse and wagon rides. It starts November 27 through November 29.

4. Excelsior Christkindlsmarkt is a three-day Christmas Festival, where you can enjoy the Grand Parade, delicios German treats, gift shops and more. Don’t miss this fun family holiday celebration that starts November 26. Here you can find the daily event schedule and any additional information.

Here are some great restaurants to check out on Thanksgiving weekend.

1. Located in St.Paul, Faces Mears Park is a combination of French cuisine with Moroccan, Spanish and Mediterranean cuisine. Great thing about them is that they use local, organic ingredients. Check out their menu.

2. Jax Cafe is a great place for steak and seafood. It is located in an old building on University Avenue, Minneapolis. It is quaint and charming, with a great patio. Click here for the menu.

3. Basil’s Restaurant has a great selection of American cuisine entrees and desserts. They also have a full bar and an espresso bar.

4. St.Paul Grill located in downtown offers classic American food. It is an upscale place and can get a bit expensive. Also, their menu has options for those who are gluten intolerant.