Gawd, can you believe it’s December already? Seemed like Thanksgiving came late this year, but even that seemed too soon. Anyway, it is getting into the “holiday season” here in the Twin Cities, as elsewhere in the US and Canada and ads are drumming the idea into all of our heads. Santa, dreidels, presents, mangers, all of it! It’s not like I dislike Christmas of course, though my favorite holiday is still Halloween (less expectations, more creativity), but it can definitely be overwhelming. Who to get presents for? How much to cook? Plans to plan. Sure makes me think back fondly on childhood where all of that was taken care of for you… makes everyting feel more like an obligation, sometimes.
It makes me tend to avoid retail stores and malls like the plague, as much as I can, during this time of year; allows me to still be able to listen to holiday music. However, this weekend, there are definitely some fun things happening around the Twin Cities to check out to support local artists, pick up some of those coveted “unique” stocking stuffers and gifts, and just have fun doing what you are obligated to without stepping into a shopping mall and being subjected to more “Jingle Bell Rock” piped through the loud speakers (I really hate that song).
Last night, I checked out the annual No Coast Craft-O-Rama at the Midtown Market. Great ambiance, awesome crafts to check out; there was definitely a running theme among many of the vendors showing off their own love for the state of Minnesota and Minneapolis-St Paul metro, from jewelry depicting the state, T-shirts evoking local pride, screen printed posters of local landmarks and beers, and general nerdery, like the super cute little sleepy stuffed Minnesotas; like Etsy, but in the real world, so you can chat with the artists in real time and see the goods in 3D! All of this local pride really pleases me. Got a few things checked off the list, and ate a tasty spinach paneer Indarrito from the Midtown’s newest food vendor, Hot Indian Foods- it is always hard to decide what to have while there. The hot sauce was pretty hot, at least by Minnesotan standards. Live music, people watching, and too many choices for food! I recommend. It’s on til 5:00 this evening, so head over if you have the time!
Another favorite art show is over in St. Paul today, Art at Ramsey, held at Ramsey Middle School on Summit Avenue. Crammed into the historic middle school gyms, there is always a lot of cool and beautiful works of art for sale. I got some good gifts here last year. Organized by the Artist’s Circle of St. Paul, the arts and crafts here are, in general, a bit more “high end” than the quirky things on display at No Coast, specializing in pottery, painting, and other fine arts, though there are definitely some affordable gems to be found; guess it highlights the difference in culture between the two cities. It, too, is on until 5:00 tonight.
Finally, the annual Julmarknad event at the American Swedish Institute, which is going on today and tomorrow is another great holiday event celebrating the immigrants of the Twin Cities past and featuring a lot of Scandinavian treats, from glogg to cardamon bread (no lutefisk, though). I went last year, and it had tons of fun searching the Turnblad Mansion for Tomte, learning about the cuisine of the Nordic countries, and, of course, looking at traditional crafts available for purchase. The ASI is one of Minneapolis’ hidden gems, so I encourage you to check it out. I’m hoping to visit tomorrow! It keeps on until 5:00 tonight as well, and is also going on tomorrow 12 to 5. Unlike the free No Coast and Art at Ramsey events, the Julmarkad includes museum admission ($10)- definitely worth taking a look in any case!
Midtown Global Market, 920 E Lake St #G10, Minneapolis,
Ramsey Middle School, 1700 Summit Ave, St Paul,
American Swedish Institute, 2600 Park Ave S, Minneapolis