Being born and raised in Wisconsin, you know I’m a beer girl! One of my favorite things to do is explore local hotspots, whether it be in a city I’m visiting or the city I currently call home. As someone who loves craft beer, finding new breweries to sample has become somewhat of a hobby. You can really get a feel for a city and its neighborhoods just by spending a few hours in one of their breweries!
Barrel Theory Beer Company, located in the Lowertown neighborhood of Saint Paul, Minnesota, opened its taproom in June of this past summer. A short walk from both the Xcel Energy Center and CHS Field, this is the perfect place to grab a local brew or two before Minnesota Wild or Saint Paul Saints games!
Upon entering, I fell in love with the decor. Hardwood floors and stone walls are two of the features I picture in Saint Paul architecture and Barrel Theory has both. The taproom is not overly large but has a wraparound bar and window seating that gives it a cozy feel. The hanging wire lighting twisted into a petal shape and brightly colored beer signs add just the right personality and artsy touch.
The menu featured a nice selection of IPAs and stout beers with a few other products for variety. Instead of serving flights, Barrel Theory offered all of their beers in 4 oz. pours so you could sample as many as you like before settling on a favorite. Their beer philosophy is simple: if they aren’t proud of it, they won’t serve it! As someone who sampled my fair share, I didn’t find one I didn’t like.
The Black Lotus, a coconut milk stout, was by far my favorite. It tasted smooth and left a refreshing coconut taste on your tongue after sipping. My second favorite was, without a doubt, Java Oats, a coffee oatmeal stout. How can you go wrong with a coffee-flavored beer? With two of my favorites in one craft brew, sign me up for that! My favorite IPA was Droptops. It’s the dead of winter here in Minnesota and just the name conjured driving down palm tree-lined streets of Cali in a vintage droptop. Ordered mostly for the name, the flavor did not disappoint!
What are your favorite places to explore? Do you have a favorite brewery in your city? I’d love to visit some of your favorites!
They say whoever you spend New Year’s Eve with are the people who will stay in your life throughout the new year. I don’t necessarily believe that but I can be a bit superstitious so you can bet I want to be surrounded by those closest to me when the clock strikes midnight and the ball drops.
In the past, this usually meant putting on the sparkliest top or dress in my closet, maybe adding a New Year’s crown (because how many other days of the year can you get away with wearing a crown?!) and bundling up to celebrate with my friends and hundreds of strangers at the coolest NYE party we could find. This also meant starting my New Year hungover, broke, and let down because the reality never lives up to the hype.
I took a few years off from the NYE bar scene before making a rare comeback appearance last December 31. While I did have fun, it was hardly any more special than a normal fun night out with the squad but cost WAY more. Guess what? I woke up hungover, broke, and underwhelmed. So in the spirit of New Year’s resolutions, this year I’m resolving to plan a New Year’s Night In!
One of the benefits of staying in is dressing warm and cozy! Have all of your friends wear cute pjs or plan a theme ahead of time! I got these adorable Wondershop pajamas from Target for Christmas this year and they’d be perfect for a NYE Girls’ Night In. Adult onesies are also a big trend for parties or family get-togethers and would be a fun photo op!
Movie NightThere are so many movies whose storyline or a significant piece of their plot take place on New Year’s Eve or Day. What better way to pass the time while waiting for the ball to drop or to wind down after the big countdown than a New Year’s movie marathon? In no particular order, here’s a list of some suggestions:
New Year’s Eve, 200 Cigarettes, Ghostbusters 2, Boogie Nights, When Harry Met Sally, An Affair to Remember, The Apartment, Ocean’s Eleven, Trading Places, Sex and the City, Bridget Jones’ Diary, The Poseidon Adventure, The Godfather Part II
There are so many cute photo booth prop kits available these days so you can show off your #SquadGoals! Choose a corner or wall with plenty of open space that you can decorate. Most party stores have inexpensive banners you can drape across to set up your backdrop. If you don’t mind a little cleanup the next day, find some fun confetti to toss in the air or blow towards the camera for some extra sparkle. Then break out your prop kits and start making some memories!
NYE Drink Contest
You can’t have a New Year’s Eve party without some champagne, right? There are so many great holiday champagne drinks and variations of mimosas. Tell your friends you will supply the champagne and they can bring the mixers. They can bring a recipe they choose ahead of time or you can get creative and experiment with mixing your own new drinks!
After a few glasses of champagne, my friends and I are usually ready to dance. Some of us might be better than others (I’m looking at you, all my former dance team friends!) but hey, the beauty of dancing at home is that nobody cares! Find or create a playlist of top songs from 2017 and dance like nobody’s watching!
Share Your “Resolutions”
Making resolutions is a tradition pretty much everyone takes part in in some way. If these are the people who will be with you in the New Year, let them know what your resolutions are so they can help cheer you on! Have everyone share theirs and you’ve got your own little accountability and support group ready to take on 2018. Not a fan of New Year’s resolutions? Check out my blog post on alternatives to New Year’s resolutions here.
Brunch is one of my favorite things to do with my friends so it seems only fitting to start the new year by hosting my own. Prep an egg bake ahead of time so all you have to do in the morning is pop it in the oven. Coborn’s grocery also carries an amazing cinnamon roll from Rhodes that are packaged ready to bake. Just remove the plastic, bake for 30 minutes, and frost! Finally, you can’t have a true New Year’s Day brunch without mimosas. Experiment with some fresh fruit and flavored juices for a fun twist on the traditional classic. My favorite is champagne with pink lemonade and raspberries! To make your brunch extra festive, serve your mimosas in festive glasses like these from Target!
Whether you are having a large party or an intimate gathering, I hope you find these suggestions as fun and festive as I do! I’m excited to start my New Year relaxed and surrounded by those I care about most! Cheers to the New Year!
What are your favorite New Year’s Eve traditions? Who do you most love to ring in the New Year with?
While this would probably be classified as a “lifestyle blog”, I feel like recreational would be a better term. I love sharing my hobbies, activities, and passions with you and hope it helps you find new books, restaurants, and interests as well! Some of these things don’t require a full blog post so I wanted to find a way to quickly share things I’m loving at the moment. Voila! Friday Five was born…I hope you enjoy these things as much as I do!
Kelsea Ballerini – Unapologetically
I’m “unapologetically in love” with this album! I enjoy all types of music and really find what I’m listening to reflects my mood. While you’ll rarely find me listening to a country station on my car radio, I do have my go to artists. Kelsea Ballerini quickly found a fan in me with her debut single “Love Me Like You Mean It”. I was pleasantly surprised to find I loved her second album even more than the first. On any given album, there are usually one or two songs I skip. There isn’t a single one on “Unapologetically” I pass by, although I do tend to hit repeat at least once after “Miss Me More” plays. The fact that Kelsea helps write her own music makes me love it, and her, even more! Can you say #GirlBoss?
The Minnesota Timberwolves
Clearly I am a sports fan, but if you have known me for any length of time, you would probably be surprised to hear me say this. Although I played basketball VERY briefly, it’s never been one of my favorite sports and I would more than likely keep channel surfing if I passed a game on TV. Credit a very good Wisconsin Badgers men’s basketball team and a very good friend of mine for changing my tune over the last few years. I now find myself screaming from the stands at Lynx games, speaking semi-knowledgably about the NBA, and even watching so-called meaningless games on TV. The Timberwolves, with welcome new additions, are off to a promising start and I’m glued to the action. Confession: I may be biased when it comes to the Wolf Pack.
When season two began airing on the CW, I had never watched an episode. However, pondering a dark version of the Archie comic book characters, my curiosity got the best of me. Three days of Netflix binging later, I had watched all of season one and was hooked! I love a good mystery and Riverdale, the show and the fictional city, are full of them. Some shows are just too predictable and, for the most part, this isn’t one of them. I now find myself impatiently waiting on Wednesdays when the newest episode airs. Bonus: finding ways to incorporate Veronica’s killer style into my workplace wardrobe.
Fur is looking to be a big trend again this winter and I couldn’t be more thrilled about it! I love finding ways to incorporate trends into my wardrobe without overdoing it. I think of my style as more classic comfortable with trendy twists. Think fur-trimmed hoods, gloves or vests instead of a full-on fur coat. A few years ago, I received a faux fur infinity scarf for Christmas (thanks Mom!). I’ve been wearing it for three straight winters now and, not only is it warm and cozy, but it matches my classic camel peacoat just as well as my girly pink dress coat or black moto jacket. Faux fur almost makes for trendy home accessories for the winter, such as pillows and blankets. My faux fur blanket is so soft I even have to fight my cat for it! It might be the bright spot in what looks to be an especially long, cold Minnesota winter…
Café Latte Protein Powder
I recently started a Holiday Hustle Health Challenge with one of my friends and finding ways to incorporate healthy habits into my everyday life has been a big focus (as well as eliminating the not-so-healthy). It’s no secret that I LOVE coffee and eating enough healthy protein has always been a weakness of mine. I also prefer flavored lattes to black coffee but usually drink the latter for more nutritional purposes. Enter café latte protein powder which I began mixing into my morning coffee, a tip from my friend who is also an amazing health coach. Now, I get the caffeine boost, the benefits of the protein, and the flavor of a latte – WIN-WIN-WIN situation! Plus, it’s a great way to get me going on the days I have to be up before the sun is!
What are you currently obsessing over?
Instead of the 12 Days of Christmas, I’m challenging you to 12 days of winter fun! Because only in Minnesota is the state’s biggest outdoor beer festival held in the dead of winter…
1. Practice your backward crossovers at Wells Fargo WinterSkate
2. Howl for FREE Cherry Berry during the 4th quarter of a Minnesota Timberwolves game
3. Cheer on Minnesota native Cameron Naasz at the Red Bull Crashed Ice season opener
4. Go fly a kite at the Lake Harriet Winter Kite Festival
5. Watch some fireworks or your favorite holiday movie at the Holidazzle Winter Wonderland
6. Don your ugliest Christmas sweater and participate in your favorite winter fun run
7. Celebrate the “State of Hockey” at a Minnesota Wild game
8. Get your drink on at the Winter Beer Dabbler, Minnesota’s biggest outdoor beer festival
9. Attend the Tree Lighting Ceremony at 50th & France
10. Fly down The Big Hill on a snow tube at Green Acres
11. Rent a party bus, spike your hot chocolate and check out Holiday Lights in the Park
12. Lace up your warmest boots and explore Stillwater’s Ice Castles
What are your favorite winter activities? What would you add to your winter bucket list?