Archive for the ‘Why I Love St Paul’ Category

Thankfully the only wars raging in Minnesota include Japanese beetles vs. everyone’s garden and who serves the best Juicy Lucy. I suppose I could name a few other feuds (best twin city, best new food at the fair, best food on the Green Line, etc.), but I’m here to talk about the best cheeseburger in town. I’m not a fan of Juicy Lucy’s, so I’m referring to a classic grilled beef patty with cheese on top.

The economics side of me definitely prefers Monday night burgers at the Groveland Tap for $3 each. IMG_3560Even with the recent 50¢ price increase, I can order 6 burgers and a basket of fries for less than $40. No, I don’t eat them all myself.

But there might be a new champion burger in my life.

The other day, I wandered down West 7th and popped into Burger Moe’s with some friends. The Bleu Sky Burger with grilled mushrooms, caramelized balsamic onions and dripping with blue cheese still haunts me. Its unami yumminess — that 5th taste found in parmesan cheese, Japanese dashi (kelp) stock and caramelized veggies — is so satisfying. Unfortunately, it’s huge, so I’ve yet to finish one and remembered to bring my leftovers home. Now if only they served Fresh French Fries, I’d be in culinary heaven.

The burger’s so good, I forgot to take a photo.



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Roof top Art ParkThe Roof Top Art Park debuted in 2003 at the Minnesota Children’s Museum. Do you remember when exactly? I do —  I was there with son number one.

He said, “I’m up top, Mama! Come up! Come up!”

“No can do,” I thought peering down at my round midsection — at 9 months pregnant I was impressed that I even visited the museum.

Son number two arrived that night, which is why I know exactly when the Rooftop Art Park opened. This playful visit is just one in a long series that illustrates the Minnesota Children’s Museum role in my family’s upbringing. Like many Minnesota families, I can chart my children’s growth by their mastery of skills such as blowing bubbles, shopping a grocery store, or making kimchi in the Our World Gallery.

Play at homePlaying at the Minnesota Children’s Museum meant more playing at home. The open-ended play in the galleries sparked the same kind of creativity in my dining room.

I’m just really glad I invested in a waterproof table-cloth…

Why Play is Important

Play fosters creativity.  I teach an MBA class at St. Catherine University in creativity and innovation because business requires creative thinking to solve problems like water scarcity or food spoilage. See my #MBA6410 tweets to see what goes on in that class. I’ll give you a hint:  we play, experiment, and test ideas.

A business whose only ambition is to continue doing tomorrow what they did yesterday, will wither as both its competitors and customers change around it. The central role of creativity in business survival was recognized in an IBM survey of more than 1,500 chief executive officers from 60 countries. They reported that – more than rigor, management discipline, or even vision – successfully navigating an increasing complex world will require creativity.

What Is Creativity’s Value–In Marketing, In Business? Forbes, 10/04/2010

Taking Play a Step Further

Championing the role of play and creativity in business brings me a new adventure. I’m still encouraging play, but today it’s from a new perspective as the director of content and communications at the Minnesota Children’s Museum.CJamThumb

Creativity:  Thinking of alternative ways to do something, or altering a step to change the result, displays a child’s ability to be innovative-the wave of the future. New ideas, tomorrow’s inventions, the next, big innovative thing is often sparked by an unusual and creative idea.

Play and the 7 Cs. Minnesota Children’s Museum MCM.org

In my new role, I direct the content and communication strategies of the museum as we truly engage with families in their online spaces and, of course, throughout the museum.

Today’s Children are Tomorrow’s Leaders

Help me support the power of play by visiting the museum and donating to fund our amazing expansion.

Looking ahead to the next 30 years, and what living, working and contributing in the 21st century requires, we determined that constructing and developing the proficiencies and skills your child will call upon and use daily to succeed in school and in life would be our focus. There are seven proficiencies which is not a fun name so after a raise of hands we chose to call them “The 7C’s.”

These seven “tools” are consistently viewed as crucial and necessary for success in the 21st century by researchers and Fortune 500 company executives. And amazingly so, these tools begin to surface in early childhood and are first developed through play!

Play and the 7 Cs. Minnesota Children’s Museum

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"I herd kids." -- Laddie

I herd kids.

I have a Collie. In his mind, all the kids in my backyard must stay together. When one wanders off he barks to herd them back together. He’s a herding dog by nature.

While my kids are used to Laddie, the neighbor kids don’t always appreciate being treated like wandering sheep.

Every year the kids beg to take Laddie to the Irish Fair of Minnesota to see if he can herd sheep as well as the professional dogs.

Every year I say, “No.” quickly followed by “Let’s go to the Irish Fair of Minnesota and watch the professional dogs.”

A Fair Favorite

We plan our visit to the Irish Fair of Minnesota to make sure we catch a bit of sheep herding. Luckily the sheep perform a few times during the fair because it’s a popular event for many families.

Escape Artists

Last year a few sheep escaped — it must have been a  new dog — but I couldn’t figure out how they got past the crowd of kids and families surrounding Croagh Park. Of course, if I had a wee sheep running toward me, I might move out of the way pretty quickly, too.  All six of the escape artists were quickly corralled with a little help from fairgoers.

 Sheep Herding is an Art

With only a few commands from a shepherd, a well-trained dog can easily manage a herd of sheep.








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Butterflies descend from my ceiling, my drapery wires, on the woodwork, and from my indoor Norfolk Pine tree? Why? It’s too cold for a Minnesotan like me to go outside. If it were 70 and sunny everyday, my office would still be half painted, the butterflies would still be in their boxes, and my creative strategy syllabus would be farther from completion.

Extreme winters make us creative.

1.  We’ll hear some amazing music over the next few months as Minnesotan musicians get creative with the cold. See today’s local Current blog for a complete list.

IMG_23522. My office is gorgeous now.

3. Pasta Fazool, Pulled Pork (North Carolina style), Tomato Bisque soup, and Cream of (Minnesota) Wild Rice soup for the spontaneous neighborhood potluck. I can’t remember the last time I cooked anything that required 4+ hours of stock simmering.

4. Rotating hordes of school kids building forts in each other’s living rooms. All my massive dictionaries make wonderful blanket weights, after all.

5. Freezing stuff —  bubble bushes and ice globes.

Photo courtesy of Mary Kate Boylan

Photo courtesy of Mary Kate Boylan

6. Minnesotans always, always, always will have something non-political to talk about.

7. Every Christmas present is thoroughly played with. Every board game’s rules rewritten.

8. An extraordinary vocabulary to describe one simple word:  cold.

9. October 2014 babies. Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

10. Emerald Ash Borer, R.I.P.

Now that you’re ready to move to Minnesota and be creative, you need to know these 10 tips from @mplsgossipgirl

10 Reasons Why -22 Degrees is Not That Cold When You Are a True Minnesotan

It’s cold out there today. Really cold. Like -22 degrees and it feels like -45 with the windchill.

If you are a true Minnesotan you go outside and think, Oh, this really isn’t that bad. It’s cold, but it could be worse.

There are a few reasons why we stay here when it is this cold outside.  We are smart enough to figure out how to keep warm in this polar vortex.

10 Reasons Why -22 Degrees is Not That Cold When You Are a True Minnesotan:

1. You own all the proper winter weather gear. This may include a parka,mukluks, a hat with ear flaps, and proper mittens. You don’ t care what you look like because at least you are warm.

2. You own at least 3 pairs of long underwear. Yes, you may look a little bit puffy today at work but your bum is nice and toasty.

3. You have a space heater at your desk. Did your feet get cold on your way into work? That is not a problem because when you get to work you can put them right in front of your space heater.

4. Almost everyone knows how to jump a car or knows someone who can jump their car and can do it in 2 minutes. We carry around the tools to get our cars started no matter where we are because it is the smart thing to do.

5. We all own at least 40 blankets. One of them is heated so that if it gets really cold we can plug it in and be nice and toasty when we sleep.

6. If you have something warm to drink it makes you think that you are really warm. We all have supplies of hot coco, tea, and coffee to make when it gets frigid. Your mom also used to put in those little marshmallows when you were younger.

7. When there are days like this we have a supply of movies, games, and indoor activities that keep us occupied for many hours. Plus, we may even get to sleep in.

8. We all know alternative (less safe) ways to heat our homes by using space heaters, cooking something in your oven, and lighting candles. You usually end up with a hot dish or a pot roast, it’s a win/win.

9. It gives us an excuse to cuddle up with those people you love. Body heat helps.

10. We know it’s not THAT cold because it could always be worse. It could be -40 degrees and it feels like -70 and it snowed 3 feet overnight and then it sleeted for that very brief warm up. IT CAN ALWAYS BE WORSE.

Lets be honest, we love it here in Minnesota, even when it is colder than Antarctica which is only at -11 degrees today.  We stay because of the people, the culture, the food, the community, and because summer is amazing here.

because I am a true Minnesotan


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Once upon a time I used to fly to Amsterdam just to listen to a band. (No, I wasn’t rich, I just had great flight benefits with Northwest Airlines). Now I travel occasionally to academic conferences and for the rare vacation.

I’ve been home for about 18 hours after traveling in a circle from Minneapolis-St. Paul to Chicago to New Orleans to Houston to Denver and back. After my NWA years I considered myself an expert traveler.


I made four errors:

  • Three bad pairs of shoes for walking. Not horrible (no stilettos), but not good for the miles I put on in the Garden District and the Colorado foothills.
  • Assuming WiFi is plentiful and the bandwidth large. Kudos to the Metropolitan Airports Commission or whomever stocked the MSP Humphrey Terminal with outlets, mini desks, and oceans of WiFi bandwidth. Let’s just say all the other airports I visited could learn something from MSP.
  • Not upgrading my AT&T iPhone plan. Seriously, one month of “hotspot” service wouldn’t have broken the bank.
  • Failing to download student work to grade offline. See above.

Of course I learned a lot, too.

  • I’m most creative after learning something and then literally walking around with it. The hours I strolled through New Orleans (see WiFi above) caused a plethora of research ideas to bubble up  (and a lot of blisters, too).
  • Stories from Tee-Eva’s snowball shop will stick with me forever.
  • Minneapolis and St. Paul have wonderful sidewalks.
  • No one really cared if I live tweeted from Riot Fest Denver. No one.
  • I love taking random photos with my phone.
  • Let other people shoot videos.
  • You can buy band aids just about anywhere.
  • Only in Minnesota (I think) are earplugs freely distributed and easy to buy (thank you Pine County Fair Demolition Derby and First Avenue). I was lucky to find them at Riot Fest.
  • Minnesotans like to find each other and revel in our collective wisdom of being, well Minnesotans. And we love our accents.
  • New Orleanians are the best storytellers.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Video courtesy of Chris Pollard

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What’s your favorite local event?

The Uptown Art Fair?

The Current Birthday Party?

Rock the Garden?

The Renaissance Festival?

Mine is the Irish Fair, held every August at on Harriet Island.

I go every year. I love the music, the dancing, the dogs, and now the new author’s table in the cultural pavilion. The people watching and food rank highly, too.

Have you noticed how social events have become?

Yes, everyday people post their pictures to Facebook and Instagram, share Vine videos etc., but the events we all attend have become more sophisticated, too.

Here’s what the Irish Fair of Minnesota does:

Instagram: irishfairmn – 23 posts so far and 26 followers

Facebook: IrishFairMN with 5,543 likes and 720 checkins and many posts to the page by others

Twitter: @IrishFairMN

Email Newsletter via Vertical Response

Website: IrishFair.com with social plugins for Twitter and Facebook

What could the Irish Fair do with social media?

Claim some hashtags and encourage their use on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Vine…


#MenInKiltsStPaul (Just Google #MenInKilts and you’ll see why the StPaul is needed!)

#MyIrishName (It’s Sorcha, pronounced SUR a kha if you were curious)



Social Contests

They’ve got a raffle, what about best photo contests of dogs, dancing, sheep, and sport? Or simply more social messages about the baking contest? Although honestly, I’m not sure daily photos of warm, buttery scones would be good for me, personally. See now I’ve you you thinking about baking some, don’t I?

Quick, Specialized Branded Videos

Dancing children, frolicking dogs, authors reading, mini golf for kids, Irish name badges, fish and chips frying, social dancing, and of course a perfectly poured Guinness?

Did I forget something? How about 25+ hours of amazing Celtic music

What a perfect daily inspiration for the 3 weeks leading up to the fair!

Feature Vendor and Talent Social Media

I’m pretty sure everyone performing or sharing their knowledge at the Irish Fair has some kind of digital presence, why not list them? The music headliners have a page, but what about all the other acts and artisans? Maybe create a digital badge they could use on their home page that of course, links back to the Irish Fair website.

Here are just a few of the amazing people at the fair:


Final Thoughts

Maybe I should volunteer!

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