Sunday, December 9, 2012

Best Songs of 2012

Spotify recently released its list of the 100 most popular songs in the world in 2012. And it got me thinking...besides Gotye's "Somebody That I Used to Know" and fun.'s "We Are Young," none of the top 10 songs even made my playlist this year. And even those two became so overplayed that I stopped listening to them after a while.

I guess my musical preferences have shifted quite a bit in the last three to four years. Don't get me wrong, I still adore Beyonce and even latch on to the occasional top 40 hit, but beyond that, I'm really loving further exploring my musical palate.

I just submitted my picks for The Current's Top 89 of 2012 and thought it'd be fun to share my 10 favorite songs of the year. Enjoy!

**I'm always looking for new music, so feel free to share some of your favorites with me. :)

1. Alabama Shakes, Hold On

It seems Rolling Stone and I agree that this was the best song of 2012. Man, I love Alabama Shakes. 

2. Jack White, Love Interruption

Along came this song, and I fell in love with Jack White all over again. 

3. Django Django, Default

Catchiest tune of the year.

4. First Aid Kit, Emmylou

Their voices are so beautiful. And I love the tribute to some of music's all-time greats. My favorite chorus of all the top 10.

5. The Heavy, What Makes a Good Man

I dig The Heavy in a big way. Awesome rock band.

6. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, feat. Mary Lambert, Same Love

Beautiful song. Powerful message. Right now, I'm also crazy obsessed with "Thrift Shop" (along with 28 million others apparently) but figured I should only include one Macklemore song in the top 10 ;) 

7. Passion Pit, Constant Conversations

It's got a nice, smooth R&B sound that leaves you feeling a bit hypnotized. 

8. Divine Fits, Would That Not Be Nice

Gotta love the Minneapolis shout-out. And, it's just a dang cool song.

9. The Chalice, Push It

Two words: female rappers. And local to boot.

10. Jay-Z and Kanye West feat. Frank Ocean, No Church in the Wild

I know the "Watch the Throne" album came out in 2011, but this song was released earlier this spring. And it's phenomenal.

Honorable Mention

Clare Bowen and Sam Palladio, If I Didn't Know Better (from Nashville)

This song takes my breath away. His voice when he hits those high

Saturday, November 24, 2012

A Long Time Coming: Tilia

I seriously love holiday weeks. A couple days off - add in a few vacation days - and suddenly you're catching up on projects, making your own meals, meeting up with friends and family and maybe even blogging a bit. ;)

It's true. I've spent some time de-cluttering and hung a few new pictures on the walls, made two scrumptious dinners, had lunch with two good friends, saw a movie with some of my favorite gals, spent enough time with my mom that she'll be glad to see me go home tomorrow (kidding, I hope), out-played (but didn't win against) my sister in Monopoly Deal, hung out with my favorite rugrats and am now on to blog post number two: recapping Tilia.

Tilia has been on my list so long I was practically itching to go. I've heard so many great things about the menu that when my friend and I were picking lunch destinations, it was a shoo-in.

Located right in the middle of Minneapolis' Linden Hills neighborhood, Tilia is just down the street from children's bookstore perfection Wild Rumpus. It's a quaint, adorable little spot.

And on the inside, it's equally adorable. The place was also packed with lunch-goers on a Tuesday afternoon.

We ordered the french fries with an accompanying fry sauce to share. They were salty and crispy and easily devour-able.

I also went with the fish taco torta, a fantastic little sandwich on a chewy bun with a peppadew pepper slaw and cilantro. So big, you almost can't fit it in your mouth. The sauce had a fun, addictive kick that keeps you coming back for more, and the slaw added a delightful crunchy texture.

I've heard great things about Tilia's brunch and dinner too. I can't wait to go back :)

Tonight, I spend some QT with grandma and tomorrow, I help a two-year-old celebrate her birthday. Life is good.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Country Style Eats in Hotlanta

Happy Thanksgiving! I love today. It's my absolute favorite holiday (okay, maybe tied with the Fourth of July), because it serves as such a wonderful reminder of everything we have to be grateful for in life. I actually get a little angry when I see Halloween and Christmas start to steal Thanksgiving's thunder. Don't get me wrong - I quite enjoy both Christmas and Halloween, I just don't think they should overshadow all of Thanksgiving's splendid goodness. Most of November belongs to Thanksgiving...let's give it its due. Tomorrow is for Christmas music. Tomorrow is for watching "Love Actually" on repeat. Tomorrow is for turning into a gift-hunting crazy pants. But, is for relaxing and enjoying each other. :)

A festive little treat I made to accompany Thanksgiving dinner thanks to the ever-inspiring Pinterest: Chocolate and Peanut Butter Acorns.

I recently went on an epic girls trip to Atlanta with a few of my favorite people (coming together from four different states). Most surprisingly, this was my first visit to Atlanta proper. I've spent countless hours stuck in that crazy airport due to various connections and travel delays but had never actually set foot in the city. I was excited to fix that.

We were in town for just a weekend but managed to really take it all in as we celebrated a friend's birthday at the 2012 Roller Derby championships, where we were lucky enough to catch a Minnesota RollerGirls bout (Minnesota represent!). We toured CNN (nerd heaven), enjoyed cocktails while taking in city views in the Westin's spinning Sun Dial restaurant, ate good food and even overwhelmed ourselves at the World of Coca-Cola.

One of the most memorable dining experiences came in the form of Southern perfection at Pittypat's Porch in downtown Atlanta.

Now, for those more informed than I, the restaurant is named after Scarlett's aunt Pittypat from "Gone With the Wind" who was known to serve up some delicious Southern eats (or so I've been told). The ambiance of Pittypat's Porch is nothing short of awesome and everything you'd hope for.

We were there right when the restaurant opened for dinner, combining a late, late lunch with an early dinner (read: go big or go home). And go big we did. I ordered Aunt Pittypat's fried chicken: "three pieces of the best damn Southern fried bird." All entrees came with access to a "Southern Salad Sideboard."

I tried a little bit of everything. Some salad with bleu cheese dressing. Some pasta salads. A little rice dish. A scoop of potato salad. The potato salad was killer, but I tried not to fill up on everything else in order to save room for the main event.

Fried chicken. Fried chicken. Fried chicken. Oh my gosh, this was sooooooo much chicken for just one person. But that didn't stop me from giving it the ol' college try. I think I made it through the breast and half of the thigh. Mmmmm.....crunchy, crispy chicken. And those mashed potatoes...were...ridiculous. Seriously, so good.

Our meal also came with collard greens and blackeyed peas. But I really couldn't even consider either option. I had one last thing on the brain: a bite of the Georgia peach cobbler we ordered to share.

That's right. A picture is worth a thousand words (photo courtesy of a friend on said trip). :) 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Summer Highlights

I've been a bad, bad blogger.

No. Seriously. Long time no see. Now that fall is well underway in Minneapolis, I think it's safe to say I let myself get a bit wrapped up in summer activities and forgot all about blogging. I have lots to catch up on, but I'd probably spend from now until Christmas doing so. Instead, I'll share a few highlights from this summer and make it easy on you.

I hope to be back at it with some regularity and even have a few fun recent restaurant visits to recap in the coming days. So with that, a quick glimpse at summer in photos...

When I last left you in June, I'd promised to recap one additional restaurant visit from that trip...and a quite memorable one at that. The last night in NYC brought us to John's Pizzeria in Times Square, an incredibly popular pizza spot that was once a church. The converted space left some elements in tact, like the beautiful stained glass dome. The building was built in 1888 and is now home to the country's largest pizzeria. The brick oven pizza was quite delish. Ham and black olives, are an unbeatable combo in my opinion.

I had quite a busy summer travel schedule and took many a great Instagram photo, soaking in all the great architecture to be had. From tall skyscrapers and the breathtaking St. Patrick's Cathedral in Manhattan, to Bourbon Street in NOLA and lovely churches in San Antonio.

And of course, I had good fun here in Minnesota too. I finally got to experience Music and Movies in the Park at the Walker, I helped my grandma celebrate her birthday with a fun (yet win-less) night of Bingo, I took a quick road trip with friends and took pictures of small town churches.

AND, I even went with family to the State Fair. Those who know me well, know this isn't one of my favorite activities. After working the State Fair every day one summer as a college student, I can now only handle going every couple years or so. But, we had a blast :) We went on the big slide, rode on the space needle, visited the farm animals, ate cheese curds, inhaled Sweet Martha's cookies and even gave bacon ice cream a try.

To top it all off, I even tried out a few new things in the kitchen at home (clockwise from top left): BBQ chicken quinoa salad - the seriously most delicious quinoa dish I've had to-date thanks to Iowa Girl Eats; my summer staple of little capreses with roma tomatoes, fresh mozz, basil and balsamic; my own variation of Noodles' pesto cavatappi with chicken, thanks to some ridiculously expensive but awesome pesto my local grocer talked me into; and a colorful vegan caprese salad courtesy of Mamavation.

Woofta. That's all for now :)

Monday, June 11, 2012

Dinner at Hell's Kitchen

During my stint in NYC last week, I took advantage of all of my surroundings: Times Square, Hell's Kitchen, Midtown and more. Having heard good things about all of the restaurants lining 9th Avenue in Hell's Kitchen, we decided to check one out with that very moniker: Hell's Kitchen, the Mexican restaurant.

As I'm discovering with many of the restaurants I visit in the Big Apple, the space was small - several two- to four-person tables surrounding the bar - and dimly lit, creating a feeling of exclusivity (you'll have to forgive the poor photo quality; I intentionally left the flash off so as not to interrupt the ambiance). We were excited to find a handful of open tables when we arrived, so we didn't have to wait very long for seating.

I had a hankering for sangria (a rougher than normal allergy season left me craving one after missing out at a friend's birthday party recently) and quickly ordered a glass of red. Which definitely did not disappoint with its delicious chunks of fruit.

The tapas-style menu had so many attractive options that it was hard to narrow down my selection. So, I decided to try two. First the steamed lobster tacos with avocado, coleslaw and passion fruit aioli. Holy cats, these were fantastic. Giant pieces of fresh lobster, thick slices of avocado and the crunchy coleslaw were well-paired with the sweet-flavored aioli.

My second selection was the roasted chicken and monterey jack cheese quesedilla with a poblano cream sauce. These were also crazy good with just the right amount of heat and tasty pico de gallo.

I'm really glad we walked along the bustling streets of Hell's Kitchen to discover this spot. I'd love to go back and try several of the other notable spots. Stay tuned for one more post from last week's dining adventures :)

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Din Din in NYC

I'm in NYC for work this week; always my favorite city for trying new restaurants. There are just so many options. And, I love how you can just discover delicious places at random.

Tonight, my co-worker and I explored some Times Square area options.

Obligatory photos:

And we landed at Bella Vita Pizzeria on 43rd Street (a place that no longer seems to have a website, but apparently you can order online here). I forgot to grab an outside shot, but as you can see below, you can walk in and order pizza by the slice or dine in and order off the menu.

It's a quite charming space, small and cozy. It kind of reminds me of Broders' Cucina Italiana in Minneapolis (the deli component of Broders' located across the street from the full restaurant) but with a bit more of a warm and intimate feel and full-service.

I ordered the fettuccine alfredo, which came with large slices of chicken and a thick, creamy sauce. Oh, and it's enormous. After catching a glimpse of the giant bowls of pasta, we knew we didn't need to order any starters or side salads. This was more than filling (and, no, I didn't quite join the clean plate club). The sauce was packed with flavor, and the pasta well-prepared. Overall, it was quite delightful, and I'm glad we happened by it :)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Annual Tradition: Art in Bloom

Spring is in the air! Well, at least that's what my allergies tell me... With the season change also comes my favorite springtime activity (and now an annual tradition): Art in Bloom at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

The last Sunday in April, I spent part of the afternoon with a friend taking in all of the wonderful floral interpretations throughout the museum. This is now my third year in attendance (and my third time sharing highlights here), and each time I'm struck by how Art in Bloom makes me take a second look at so many pieces that I normally just glance over. Also for the third time, my favorite of the floral arrangements has taken me by surprise. This year, more than others, I had a hard time actually picking a favorite. But in the end, it came down to this one:

Normally, I just breeze right through the contemporary galleries, but this one stopped me in my tracks. I love how the lips and the shawl are captured so vividly, and how the floral arrangement really seems to bring the person aspect of it to life.

The two others I was really wowed by were:

Seriously. How awesome are these? And, of course, for your viewing pleasure, here are a few of my other favorites in no particular order:

You know what I love even more than Art in Bloom? Wandering around, getting lost and making completely new discoveries at MIA. I seriously could not stop staring at this... :)