63 Ways to Banish Winter
Get yourself ready for spring
The Seed Savers catalog is the go-to source for heirloom produce—tomato and melon varieties packed with as much flavor as history. In the 2014 edition, you’ll find Selzer Purple Organic Radish seeds, grown and saved in a family garden in Iowa since 1867, and Martin’s Carrot Organic Pepper seeds, preserved from the early 1800s Mennonite community in Pennsylvania. Or make a day trip to Seed Savers’ farm in Decorah, Iowa, for its seed swap on March 22 or the Rare and Unusual Heritage Plant Sale on May 3. • seedsavers.org
Pick a Plot
Why garden in your lonely backyard when you can meet up while you mulch? Rent a plot at Dowling Community Garden, one of two wartime victory gardens in Minneapolis still growing produce, or savor a home-baked loaf from the outdoor bread oven being built this year at Kingfield’s Pleasant Garden. Not up for digging in the dirt? Hit up Project Sweetie Pie or Youth Farm stands at local farmers’ markets to support the next generation of young farmers. • dowlingcommunitygarden.org; projectsweetiepie.org; kingfield.org; youthfarmmn.org
Find Floral Inspiration
Those bulbs you just planted won’t bloom for months. In the meantime, take inspiration from Macy’s Flower Show (this year’s theme is “The Secret Garden”) through April 6, Como Conservatory’s spring flower show in its seasonal Sunken Garden, and the annual Art in Bloom event at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (May 1–4), which features gorgeous floral interpretations of select works of art. • macys.com/flowershow; comozooconservatory.org; artsmia.org
Select a CSA Share
Even busy, apartment-dwelling locavores or those who are allergic to dirt have easy access to fresh produce all summer long through one of Minnesota’s nearly 100 Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms. Many CSA farms are expanding beyond vegetables, eggs, and meat, and include a variety of other goodies in their weekly boxes. Hungry Turtle Farmers Cooperative, for instance, offers shareholders medicinal teas, and Jake’s Burr Oak Farm offers a monthly beer share, courtesy of Dave's BrewFarm. • mda.state.mn.us
Take a Gardening Class
While the usual crop of spring gardening classes on subjects from container gardening to beginning vegetable gardening is available through the University of Minnesota’s Extension Service and Landscape Arboretum as well as the Minnesota State Horticultural Society, those looking to establish deeper roots in the area of urban homesteading can check out Egg | Plant Urban Farm Supply’s menu of classes, which includes Backyard Chicken Basics and Backyard Mushroom Basics. • extension.umn.edu; arboretum.umn.edu; northerngardener.org; eggplantsupply.com
Hire a Farmer
Those who want the benefits of a kitchen garden without the work can enlist the talents of the expert farmers at Harvest Moon Edible Landscapes, who will not only plan and plant your garden for you, they will also come over weekly to maintain and harvest it. For an additional fee, they’ll even show you how to cook with the resulting bounty. • harvestmoonlandscapes.com
Reclaim the Backyard
As the snow recedes, all sorts of unpleasantries are uncovered: mud, matted grass, litter, and the results of several months’ worth of your dog’s backyard bathroom breaks. Before you reach for the hazmat suit and the pooper scooper (or until someone invents a laser poo-zapper), consider leaving it to the pros. Pet Waste Professionals and ScooDoo Dog Waste Removal offer one-time and recurring yard-cleaning services. • petwaste.com; scoodoodogwaste.com
Keep on (Log) Rolling
It’s not just for lumberjacks. Don your buffalo plaid bikini and head over to Lake Calhoun or Lake Nokomis to learn the fleet-footed technique. Abby Hoeschler, president of Key Log Rolling, also happens to be a world record holder in the sport—but Key teaches as many newcomers as champions. • keylogrolling.com
Join a “Footy” Team
No, it’s not rugby. Or soccer. Or American football. It’s Australian-rules football, and it has its own unique parameters, mixing elements of soccer, basketball, ultimate Frisbee, lacrosse, and volleyball. All you really need to know is that the Minnesota Freeze welcomes new players, men and women, no experience necessary. • mnfooty.com
Run in the Mud
If your first thought while watching The Hunger Games was, “Katniss has nothing on me,” here’s your chance to prove it. Trendy, obstacle-laden mud runs make boring old road races look as simple as a game of hopscotch, with climbing walls, monkey bars, flaming pits, and lakes of mud. Use the 5K Mud Factor on May 31 to train for the longer, rougher Tough Mudder on July 19-20. Then cool down with the 5K Rugged Maniac on September 6. (Throw in The Zombie Run on August 16 to feel like a video-game character.) • mudfactor.com; toughmudder.com; ruggedmaniac.com; thezombierun.com
Practice Yoga on a Paddleboard
If everything tastes better on a stick at the State Fair, is every fitness class more fun on a paddleboard? When it’s 80 and humid, the answer is “yes.” As soon as the water warms up, consider doing your next Sun Salutation or Pilates leg circles on a stand-up paddleboard through a PaddleSculpt class. • paddlesculpt.com
…or in the Buff
Yes, you read that right: Join the Minnesota Naturists on Sundays in south Minneapolis for an hour of nonsexual yoga in the nude. Practitioners say there’s no better way to free yourself and connect to your body than doing poses without the restrictions of clothing. To that we say namaste • mnnaturists.com
If the treadmill is starting to feel too much like a human hamster wheel, it might be time to spice up that exercise routine. BurlesqueMN’s fitness class offerings include aerial skills, belly dancing, chair dancing, pole dancing, and “Glisten”—a class focused on Latin, hip hop, and twerk dance styles. “Bikini-ready” is more than aesthetics; it’s a state of mind. • burlesquemn.com
Train for a Marathon
The return of visible pavement means it’s time to get out and run off that lingering winter stir-craziness. Start training now with Twin Cities–based Minnesota Running Wild, a casual, free-of-charge Facebook group that offers organized runs for participants of all levels throughout the metro, as well as an active online community where you can talk about running even when desk-bound.
All the frenzy and twitterpation of spring can leave even the friskiest among us a little spent. Time to get mentally fit. Balance the increased energy output of the season with some grounded self-care at Common Ground Meditation Center, Minnesota Zen Meditation Center, or the Shambhala Center of Minneapolis, all of which offer drop-in classes and practice groups for beginning through advanced meditators. Those with busy schedules can try the Minneapolis-based Tergar Meditation Community’s online courses. • commongroundmeditation.org; mnzencenter.org; minneapolis.shambhala.org; learning.tergar.org
Refresh Your Décor
Minneapolis interior designer Heather Peterson offers two easy tips to freshen décor. “Add a cheerful skirt under a sink or cabinet,” she says. “It brings in fresh color and pattern, and hides clutter so you can skip the clean up and go out to play.” Or bring spring indoors by displaying botanicals. “Nothing says spring like fresh foliage,” she notes. “Pluck and press your own, create paper silhouettes, or search for vintage plates or seed packets at thrift shops. Frame them or simply pin them up in a loose arrangement.” • heatherpetersondesign.com
Here’s a sun-savvy suggestion from dermatologist and University of Minnesota assistant professor Rehana Ahmed: Before you apply sunscreen, rub a topical vitamin C serum on your face and neck, or swallow a sun protection pill (purchase the serum through your physician’s office—they’re not all equally effective). Research has shown that the antioxidants can both lighten and brighten the skin, and help the sunscreen work better. Remember to apply sunscreen liberally (picture a shot glass full of lotion) and try a titanium dioxide–or zinc oxide–based sunblock for sensitive skin or kids—the new sheer formulas won’t have you looking like an ’80s lifeguard. Leaving our frozen tundra for spring break? Ahmed tells her patients at Skin Care Doctors, P.A. to skip the indoor tanning salon. “You’ll be exposed to high quantities of dangerous radiation that increases the risk of melanoma,” she says. “Just take it easy the first couple of days in the sun.” • goodskinsimple.com; heliocare.com
If there’s one perk to a long Minnesota winter, it might be that last summer’s razor burn finally has a chance to heal. Wax Kitten in Minneapolis makes the hair-removal experience fun and social with its “wax and wine” parties for groups of five or more, which include a bottle of wine for the group and a bikini wax, group photo, and t-shirt for each individual. • waxkitten.com
The next iteration of the spray-tanning trend is having your (fake) tan come to you. Bronze and Beauty and Sun Kissed by Monica offer mobile airbrush and spray-tan services, with an aesthetician coming right to your home to give you an instant, streak-free glow. GoGlow Mobile offers discounts for groups if you invite a friend or three to come over. • bronzeandbeautymn.com; sunkissedbymonica.com; goglow.co
Juice on the Go
Once relegated to junk food, vending machines are now dispensing daily doses of raw fruits and veggies. A group of University of St. Thomas graduates is prototyping a local fresh-pressed juice vending machine, Juice | Cold Pressed, which lets you fill your 16-ounce container with organic juice pressed within the previous 48 hours, faster than you can say venti caramel macchiato. At $6.99 a pop, it’s no McDonald's—but isn’t that the point? • juicecoldpressed.com
It’s sandal season—time for the tootsies to come out of hibernation. Jen Tharaldson of Denny Kemp Salon Spa shares nail trends. “Pale colors (especially neutrals): light, milky colors; soft beige shades; and white nails are in,” she says. “Other hot trends this spring include nail art, stripes, and multicolored nails.” (Ask for the Spring Break Special for $10 off.) • dennykempsalon.com
Revise Your Skincare Routine
Laura Brown of Uptown Dermatology and SkinSpa (uptowndermatology.com), offers tips for transitioning your skincare routine:
• Dry skin prevents product penetration, accentuates lines, and leaves skin dull and lackluster. Exfoliate dry winter layers with a weekly home scrub, daily cleansing brush, or monthly microdermabrasion treatment.
• Transition to summer skincare treatments. Swap out heavyweight cream for a mid-weight lotion to prevent breakouts. Adjust chemically exfoliating products with sun-sensitizing ingredients (such as retinol) as sun exposure increases. Brightening, clarifying, or anti-aging products are okay to use year-round with the proper sun precautions.
• Stock up on summer essentials, such as fancy hats and broad-spectrum sun protection with antioxidants to prevent free-radical damage. Look for all-in-one “bb” (beauty balm) creams that combine anti-aging peptides, vitamin C, and SPF.
• Peel with caution. If you’ve been thinking about an advanced skincare treatment such as a retinol peel or laser, do it before summer to reduce your sun-exposure risk.
The YMCA’s Camp du Nord near Ely is a popular family destination, but you can actually beat the summer rush with a women-only spring retreat. The weekend includes canoeing, hiking, saunas, yoga, massage, and creative workshops. Unlike summer, you don’t have to play the lottery to reserve a spot. • ymcatwincities.org
Rent a Houseboat
Nab an early-season deal at Great River Houseboats in Alma, WI, and float down the Mississippi like Huckleberry Finn. Though Mark Twain would surely have been jealous of the boats’ wet bars, flatscreen TVs, and waterslides. • greatriverhouseboats.com
With the Twins’ Opening Day a week later than last year (April 7), you might be able to leave the blankets and flasks of hot chocolate at home. Start the countdown to seeing Byron Buxton—named the No. 1 overall prospect by MLB.com—in the Target Field outfield debuting his big-league uni. • twinsbaseball.com
Tap the Sap
Invoke your inner Laura Ingalls Wiilder and learn how to tap your backyard maple or borrow one from a state park. The reward? Pancakes topped with maple syrup straight from the sugar shack. (Be sure to clean your plate: It takes 40–50 gallons of sap to boil down one gallon of syrup.) • dnr.state.mn.us
Take the Plunge
Living in the city doesn’t mean you have to miss out on Ice-Out traditions. Plunge in! Catch a glimpse of the East Calhoun neighborhood’s annual icy dip into Lake Calhoun on the weekend the last bit of ice disappears…or start your own ritual at your favorite swimming hole.
Fly Like an Eagle
Even if you’ve never wanted to see an eagle eat a rat, it’s hard not to feel inspired (and a bit patriotic) when you get up close and personal with the eagles that live at the National Eagle Center in Wabasha. Keep your eyes on the spacious skies as you near Lake Pepin; you may get a glimpse of the spring bald eagle migration along the Mississippi. • nationaleaglecenter.org
Watch the Water Fall
Melting snow and ice lead to swollen rivers and cascading rapids. Kelsey Olson, a naturalist at Gooseberry Falls State Park offers waterfall-watching tips. “Here at Gooseberry, it’s fun to try to guess what date the ice will go out in the river,” she says. “Last year it was April 28th! With all the snow we have this year, I’m sure the river will be roaring in May and into June. Peak flow is hard to predict, but even seeing the progression of the water starting to melt and reclaim the frozen falls is really cool. The falls at Tettegouche, Cascade River, and Grand Portage State Parks are all really spectacular as well.” • dnr.state.mn.us
Take a Cooking Class
As the ice melts off your backyard grill and tender greens poke above the ground, it’s time to switch culinary gears to the lighter, fresher fare of spring: Simple Seasonal Soups at Local D’Lish, Spring Dinner Party or Outdoor Cooking & Grilling at Kitchen Window, or Spring Baking at Cooks of Crocus Hill. • localdlish.com; kitchenwindow.com; cooksofcrocushill.com
Looking for love but haven’t yet met your match (dot com)? We asked several experienced online daters what they thought of three new sites that offer a fresh approach to navigating Cupid’s cyber-world.
Since research shows how key financial compatibility is to a successful relationship, starting out with a potential mate’s credit score rating may eliminate awkward money issues later. One local online dater says that while he wouldn’t disclose that kind of information, the new partner he met online “would have been all over it—and probably wouldn’t have dated me!” One caveat: The site does not verify daters’ credit scores and may be no more accurate than self-reported height and weight statistics.
This site asks users to go beyond the standard biographical profile information and post a specific suggestion for a fun, local date. The idea is that compatibility is best determined offline and that a potential love match’s idea of a good time might be more illuminating than a paragraph on his religious or political beliefs. At least one local online dater agrees: “Being able to put the potential person together with a potential date activity makes the idea of getting together a little less random,” she says. “It might help prevent things like the guy I connected with on a different dating site who wanted to have our first meeting in a grocery-store parking lot.”
This dating app has gone so viral that it can even brag of a match made in Antarctica. But it’s not for everyone. “It’s the dating app for 20-somethings who want to sit around and judge people all night while drinking with friends,” says one skeptical 36-year-old female online dater. “Seriously, you just sit there and look at pictures and say yes/no…if someone you approve of also thinks you’re hot, you get the option of messaging. I guess it’s stripped dating down to the simplest form.” Still, the importance of images in online dating can’t be underestimated, says a 51-year-old male who found his girlfriend of two years on Match.com after her picture attracted his attention. “For guys more than girls, it’s all about the visual. If you think someone’s attractive, you’ll read more—but it’s the photo that gets you initially involved.”
Follow the Flocks
Besides a sudden uptick in chocolate-bunny consumption, what’s a surer sign of spring than the return of waterfowl, shorebirds, and songbirds? In one of nature’s most dramatic displays, millions of birds follow the Mississippi River corridor north from as far away as South America. Get these annual birding festivals on your radar: Festival of Birds in Detroit Lakes (May 15–18) and Saint Paul Audubon’s Spring Warbler Weekend on Lake Pepin (May 9–11). • visitdetroitlakes.com; saintpaulaudubon.org