Sunday, August 21, 2016

Rachels State Fair Preview!


I confess, I absolutely adore the Minnesota State Fair.
From the endless not-so-good-for-me food options to the stellar people watching opportunities to the wandering around for hours looking at random stuff; I love it all. But I mostly love corn dogs and free swag.

The Minnesota State Fair runs this year from August 25 through September 5th (Labor Day).

The first thing I want to bring to your attention is the "Blue Ribbon Bargain Book" - this little gem of specials and deals is only $5 and completely worth the $$ even if you only visit the State Fair once this year. All of the coupons in the book are worth at least 30% off and there are plenty of two-for-one deals too. You can pick up a Blue Ribbon Bargain Book at any of the locations that sell pre-fair discount tickets, such as Cub Foods and also during the fair (while supplies last) at the State FairWear Gift Shops and Bargain Book & State Fair Poster Carts.

Now, lets get to what you were all waiting for......the food!
Our Minnesota State Fair preview included a sampling of the new foods that will be available this year and I wasn't disappointed to see all of my major food groups represented.

The Hits!

Tot Boss

  • If you know me at all, you know I'm a huge fan of tater tots. Basically, if tots are available on a menu, then tots are going to happen. I am thrilled that my favorite food truck will now be serving their delicious tots at the Minnesota State Fair. In addition to all kinds of tot configurations, Tot Boss also offers gluten-free tot options, You can find the Tot Boss Food Truck on the east side of Underwood Street between Wright and Dan Patch Avenues. 

Grilled Cheese Bits from O'Garas.

  • Deep Fried White Cheddar Cheese blended with beer batter - Sign me up! Add the Bloody Mary mix marinara sauce and you are definitely winning. You do not want to miss the opportunity to try these - absolutely delish! 
Minnesnowii Shave Ice 
  • I'm typically not a huge fan of shave ice but this shave ice is a whole different story. With 100% sweetened condensed milk drizzled over delicious flavored shave ice, this is a perfect option to cool off on a warm day at the state fair. Exclusively available at the state fair is the Maple Bacon Shave ice topped with bacon bits and a maple syrup drizzle - I promise it tastes as mouth watering as it sounds. 
Honorable Mentions 

Minnesota Corn Dog from Gass Station Grill 
  • This is not your typical Corn Dog! Custom ground sausage on-a-stick made with blueberries, apples, wild rice and cayenne, is a new take on a old state fair favorite and was quite delicious. 
Cheesy French Onion Monkey Bread from the Blue Moon Dine-In Theater
  • You can always count on the Blue Moon to come up with fresh and fun new foods for the state fair. Full disclosure: I don't particularly like French Onion soup. That being said, I did find this to be tasty and an enjoyable eat! Definitely worth a try - I mean, we ARE talking cheese and bread here. 
Rustic Beef Pastry from French Meadow Bakery and Cafe
  • Moroccan-spiced, grass-fed beef and baby spinach topped with creamy goat cheese in a flaky butter crust. If you are looking for something a little bit different and more refined than your typical State Fair food, this is your perfect food! The goat cheese pairs really wall with the spinach and beef and with the spices mixed in, this is a very enjoyable dish. 
All in all, I think you will be pleasantly surprised by all of the new foods at the state fair this year - something for everyone to try! 

Did you know that there is a lot of great shopping opportunities at the Minnesota State Fair? 
There are eleven different shopping neighborhoods including the Grandstand, Pet Center, Warner Coliseum and Fan Central to name a few. There are nearly 800 vendors represented, many of which are local businesses in Minnesota. 
I can pretty much guarantee to you that whatever you are looking for, you can probably find it at the Minnesota State Fair. 

Some of the vendors that were featured at the preview were: 
  • Birchberry Native Arts and Food. Beautiful foods and items inspired by the White Earth Tribe. The wild rice that is sold is hand harvested at the White Earth Reservation by the community members. I especially enjoyed the baby moccasins which were very well made and would make a perfect baby shower or new baby gift. You can find Birchberry Native Arts and Food in the International Bazaar. 
  • The Holly House Boutique. New this year to the Minnesota State Fair, the Holly House Boutique is a seasonal boutique showcasing local artisans handmade items including pillows, soaps, signs, pottery and so much more! There are gifts that would be perfect for the whole family with price points from $1.95-$199. One of their most popular items are the hockeypuck bottle openers - sounds like a great stocking stuffer to me! You can find Holly House Boutique in the Grandstand on the upper level. 
  • i like you is already one of my favorite stores in Northeast Minneapolis so its awesome to see them represented at the state fair as well. i like you features locally made items by Minnesota artists and crafters such as t-shirts, magnets, postcards and all kinds of other fun things. They also have an awesome deal in the Blue Ribbon Book so make sure to check that out! i like you can be found in the West End Market. 
  • Machine Age Lamps specializes in lamps, industrial tables and steampunk style art light fixtures that are designed from salvaged early American factory parts. All of the pieces that you find at Machine Age Lamps are one-of-a-kind and works of art. You can find Machine Age Lamps in the West End market. 
  • Wish Boutique is also new this year and specializes in apparel items that represent Minnesota! Fun designs for men and women, this is your booth to find fun new apparel items and gifts at the state fair. Wish Boutique is located in the Grandstand on the upper level. 
Make sure to check out the Minnesota State Fair website ( for so much more information about this years state fair and I hope you have a fantastic fun time at the Minnesota State Fair! 

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Samsung Galaxy S7 Preview - Rachel goes Tech!

Rachel in the Cities here!

I recently had the opportunity to preview both the Samsung Galaxy S7 and the Gear VR headset, thanks to Verizon being an overall awesome company. 

To begin this story, I should mention that I am not a "tech" person; I own technology such as a flat-screen tv but generally only when I am forced to. Case in point, I used my huge big-box tube television until last year when it finally broke and I didn't have any other options than purchasing a flat-screen smart tv. 

So, I was a little nervous but also excited to try out the Samsung Galaxy S7 and the Gear VR headset. 
In full disclosure, I did enlist the help of a friend that is much more tech savvy than I am to assist with this adventure. 

But before I start the full review.......this is what I look like with the Gear VR headset on. 

Sidenote: After wearing the headset long enough to take a photo, I then read the instructions which explicitly not to wear the headset without the phone attached so I guess I'm living dangerously. 

And no, I did not use this photo for my Tinder profile, but now that I think about it, maybe I should!  

Moving on to the actual review....

I have been an iPhone owner for many years so I wasn't expecting much from the Samsung Galaxy S7 but I was immediately corrected. The phone itself is easy to handle and close to the same size as my iPhone 6c. I found it incredibly easy to navigate and loved the huge screen and that it was so lightweight. 

One of the things that I was most impressed with was the photo capabilities - one of my favorite social media apps is Instagram and I use my iPhone to take photos in lieu of a camera. I was thrilled with the quality of the photos, especially in low light settings. Of course I had to try out the selfie quality and was surprised to find that the Samsung Galaxy S7 has a selfie flash! Better quality selfies, I'm sold! 

Verizon had provided some information on product features which includes that the Samsung Galaxy S7 is water resistant. I was too tempted not to try dunking the phone in a sink filled with water for a couple minutes just to test it out, and what I found was that the Samsung Galaxy S7 passed that test with flying colors. To say I was surprised was an understatement, especially as I recalled an incident where my iPhone managed to take a dip in the Saint Croix river last summer and the results were definitely not the same. 

Overall, I would highly recommend the Samsung Galaxy S7 - even to the diehard iPhone users like me. Its got great features and a camera that produces better quality photos than the iPhone. 

Onto the Gear VR headset guys, this is really really cool. 
Admittedly, I am not a gamer but I might become one if I owned one of these. 

I was a little skeptical of how "real" the virtual reality would actually feel but I found that it really does feel like you are in the virtual world. You can actually turn a full 360 degrees and see the virtual world in all directions. The headset is not heavy and was very comfortable to wear. 

I tried out a couple different virtual apps including Jurassic World: Apatosaurus, Streetview VR, Woofbert VR, and Bait. One of my favorites was the Woofbert VR which allowed you to tour a museum and learn about the different pieces of art. 
My only criticism or challenge was that it took a bit of time with the different virtual apps to figure out how to maneuver or play using headset. 

Overall, both the Samsung Galaxy S7 and the Gear VR headset exceeded my expectations. I would definitely recommend both products and I want to thank Verizon again for giving me the opportunity to test these out. 

Now, everyone run over to the Verizon store and grab yourself one of these today! 

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Verizon Tech Bites Luncheon

If you know me at all, you know that I am not the most tech savvy but I do my best. Well, my technology knowledge increased a couple points last week when I attended an awesome event put on by Verizon and the Radisson Blu at the Mall of America. During the event, Verizon showcased a number of fantastic products available that would make great additions to any household and would also make great gifts for the holidays or any occasion! 

The event started out at the Verizon Destination Store at the Mall of America. I was immediately wow'ed by the space and the helpfulness and knowledge of the team that was at the ready with all of our questions. I was in awe with the huge selection of products that were available from all types of phone cases to lightbulbs for your home that change color to "smart" thermostats. I was really surprised at all the different products that were available - Verizon is definitely not just about phones! Many of the products can be tested in the store and the staff is ready and willing to assist with recommendations or training. 

Once we had a chance to check out the store, the next stop was lunch at the beautiful Firelake Restaurant at the Radisson Blu. What a fabulous place to have date night or a night out with girlfriends or even a family dinner for a special occasion. I will definitely be back. I do want to also mentioned that not only was the space lovely, the food was outstanding from flavors to presentation, it was very much a meal that I would like to repeat. 

Allison Kaplan, Senior Editor of Shopping and Style for Mpls. St Paul Magazine started off the lunch with an introduction and lead us through the structure of the lunch which would be to pair each course with technology, what fun! 

The first piece of technology that was highlighted was a collection of different types of Bluetooth enabled speakers such as the Ultimate Ears ROLL speaker. I could think of a hundred different uses for these speakers, from using them around the house to bringing them to the cabin to having them on your boat. Great quality sound, very mobile - these are a wonderful gift idea for anyone! 

The next demo was a highlight of different types of products for the home such as the Kevo door lock and the Nest thermostat. I personally am obsessed with the Kevo door lock - what a great addition to any home. With options such as remote access and unique identifiers that would allow the homeowner to know who is using the lock and when, this would really benefit any homeowner. One of the attendees mentioned that the lock would also be great to use if you rented your home out for something like AirBnb. 

The main course demo highlighted wearable technology like the Moto360 smartwatch and the GizoGadget by LG. I had the chance to play around with the GizoGadget and was really impressed with all of the different types of functionality that was included with it. I'm not a watch wearer typically but I could see where one could be very handy especially possibly for kids that might be too young for other types of technology. 

Last but not least, our last demo of the day was a fun demo of the shatterproof screen of the Droid Turbo 2. I will admit - I was very nervous when they dropped the phone onto the marble countertop! But it survived without even a scratch - very impressive! 

At the end of the meal, Verizon announced this week that through Jan. 6, current and new Verizon customers can receive 2 GB of data free every month for life when you upgrade your phone, or upgrade on XL or XXL plans. That's a pretty great chunk of data! Go to: for full details or visit a Verizon store and speak to one of the Verizon team members about all of the different options available.

Huge Thank You to Verizon and Radisson Blu for a wonderful event and sharing some great information! It was really fun learning about all the products that were available and I was very impressed with the store itself and the helpfulness of the staff. 

See below for photos from the event. Cheers! 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Worst Blogger Ever?

Hello there! 

My name is Rachel and my last blog post was 9 months ago. 
I'm not sure that I'm the worst blogger ever but I definitely know I'm probably up for some type of terrible blogger award. 

Anyway, life has been crazy since my last post. This has been a very weird year. 

Life Updates: 

Dating Life: 
Full-on Hiatus mode since July. And by hiatus, I mean I have gone on ZERO dates. I've still been off and on Tinder but there is slim pickins' as far as the quality matches I've had. 
This is by far the longest time in YEARS that I've gone without going on any dates. 
I had a relationship from April to July that ended sort of amicably but sort of not and I decided I needed to take a break and figure out some things. I'm not sure I've actually accomplished what I set out to do but it has at least done my heart some good to heal a bit from a series of being the in-betweener girl. 

To refresh your memory, of the last three relationships I've had: 1) Engaged to the girl that he started dating right after we broke up; 2) Having a baby in two months with his "best friend" that he started dating shortly after we broke up (a year ago); and 3) Seriously dating the woman that he met while we were still dating and assured me that he would not start dating right away when we broke up - except that's exactly what I knew he would do and exactly what he did. 

There is something strange about the haves and have nots when it comes to relationships. There is definitely a distinct group of relationship people and non-relationship people. 
I appear to be in the non-relationship camp but I haven't really nailed down the difference yet. All I know is that there are a ton of awesome, smart, successful and beautiful women in the Twin Cities that can't seem to find a fella with similar qualities. 

Anyway, I will probably start tip-toeing back into dating after the holidays - or not. 
My philosophy right now is to be happy and live my life and just to be open if the right person comes along. 

Other life stuff: 
Apparently 38 years old is the year that your body starts falling apart - at least for me. 

I was hospitalized in July for iron deficiency anemia and then ended up having to get intravenous iron infusions for a couple months to resolve that issue. Expensive and all-around inconvenient and not fun. 

Then in September, I had a bout of Bells Palsy which is facial paralysis. 
The entire left side of my face was paralyzed - I couldn't close my eye all the way, I couldn't raise my eyebrow or forehead and I couldn't smile. 
There is no known cause other than its typically related to some type of virus or viral infection that affects the cranial nerve. 
It was extremely scary and awful experience and made me realize a bit how much a persons face is a part of their entire identity. I use my face a ton and without being able to use expressions it was very depressing. 
Thankfully, I have recovered fully although I feel like I can still tell a little bit but I can smile again which definitely has helped my psyche. 

The other main thing that I've been up to since my last post is this little venture called: MNCommunity but this blog post is long enough already so that's a story for a different day. 

Cheers to a wonderful holiday season! 

Monday, March 30, 2015

The Online Dating Chronicles

Online Dating. 
Tinder, Match, Eharmony, Okcupid, J-Date, Christian Mingle...the list goes on and on. 
Does anyone meet organically anymore in this era of e-everything? 
My last relationship ended almost a year ago - since then I've had some variety of involvements, all of which have been initiated primarily by Tinder. 

Tinder is a very simple and efficient way to make connections and find people that you may want to have a date with...or perhaps something else. Some may even say that it's no different than Twitter or other forms of social media. 

Well after being back on Tinder since December or so, I'm calling it quits...or maybe more specifically, I'm going to stop trying and use it for entertainment only. Tinder for me has been a good tool to meet dudes that are not emotionally or otherwise available - I think the efficiency of it lends itself to the pervasiveness of those types of folks using it. 

So, I'm changing things up a bit and decided to join eHarmony so I could do a little compare and contrast. It's no secret I'm in the market for a relationship - I've done the "casual" thing long enough and it's exhausting. 
I'm curious to find out what might be different about using a paid service versus a free site. 

I will be posting my observations and commentary here - feel free to follow along. 



Hello friends - 

I just re-read my last blog post and realized I'm in a better place than that now so that's a positive! 

Not often do I have to admit failure fortunately but I do want to report that my attempt at going back to school his semester failed miserably and I had to drop the class I was taking. I was trying to do an online class (which I should know better) and got too far behind to catch back up. 

I couldn't dedicate the time I needed to and also put in the necessary time at work and have a social life. I wasn't compelled by the class material which also gave me the realization that I'm not passionate about the subject matter. All of this pondering made me realize that I need to re-evaluate the whole Masters degree program I'm in and whether I should change to a different program. 

I have not settled on an answer yet to any of the above. 
Is 37 too young to be having a mid-life crisis? 

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Sunday Night

Last week was rough. 
So many sources of, school, landlord from hell. 
I hope this week is better and I can cope with the stress better. 

One other fantastic as a social community is that I have and as awesome as being single can be, slogging through the challenges of life by yourself can be exhausting. 
I'm so tired of being single. 

My personal life misery index is indicating that I might be approaching a major life event - perhaps a big move. 

Stay tuned. Have a great week friends.