52 Dates a Year

Having fun together!

Dinner & a Movie June 14, 2010

Filed under: Inexpensive ($),Just Us,Out & About - Minneapolis/St Paul — Nikki @ 10:23 am

Dinner & a movie. Pretty common date night, we know. BUT…it’s a good one and it can be relatively inexpensive if planned properly! Monday through Thursday at AMC Theaters you can see any movie for just $5! There is an additional charge for 3D & IMAX, but only the same charge that is added if you see those types of movies at regular price.

We had dinner at California Pizza Kitchen (free, thanks to a gift card) and then saw Kick-Ass at the Southdale AMC (also free thanks to a gift card).

Chris’s Review
Nikki and I had a quick, but pretty nice date doing the standard dinner and a movie. We hit California Pizza Kitchen for dinner and split a couple of pizzas with some old gift cards we had, and then used more gift cards to watch a movie. Overall a ‘free’ night for us!

Kick-ass is definitely not a date movie, but I enjoyed it overall. Nikki and I have been watching more and more comic book movies over the last few months, but I think this one was a little over the top for Nikki. Definitely need to find some better summer movies that both of us will enjoy.

Best Part: Dinner and just not having a rushed night.

Worst Part: The movie choice… Next time a better date movie will be picked!

RATING: 3/5

Nikki’s Review
Dinner and a movie is a great combination. We were able to sit and have a nice conversation over dinner and then just relax and watch the movie afterward. Kick-Ass isn’t a movie that I planned on liking, at all. However, I didn’t hate it so I figure that’s a win!

Best part of the night: Dinner – CPK is delicious and having a chance to sit and talk to Chris is always good.

Worst part of the night: The movie. I won’t ever watch it again, but I know Chris liked it and so that’s good.

RATING: 3/5

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Happy Hour Downtown April 30, 2010

Filed under: Just Us,Moderate ($$),Out & About - Minneapolis/St Paul — Nikki @ 4:57 pm

On Friday, April 23, 2010 we decided to not worry about the looming rain threat and instead head downtown for happy hour after work. We took the light rail to the Warehouse District and headed straight for the (new) Kieran’s restaurant. We had a couple beers and shared some appetizers…the Artichoke Dip and the Chicken Shots…and both had clean plates by the time we finished them.

After Kieran’s we walked over to Twins plaza to just look around and wandered through the Twins Pro Shop, wishing we had a tree that grew money the whole time! When it was time for the Twins game to start we headed to Roy Smalley’s 87. There weren’t too many people inside, which meant we had our pick of front row tables for the projection TV. We were a little disappointed we didn’t have more Twins fans to watch the game with, but it was fun anyway. And…the food was GREAT! Chris had fish tacos and Nikki had a burger and both are highly recommended.

We were on the light rail, headed home, by 10:30pm which was a little weird but after being downtown since 5 it seemed like time to go.

Chris’s Review
We live close to the light rail, and decided to try an start a tradition with the new Twins Ball park. We wanted to head to a bar to watch the game (since we don’t have cable) and thought it would be fun to head downtown near the ball park to do it. With the new park a few new sports bars have moved, or opened near the park.

We took the light rail down and had happy hour at a very busy Kieran’s in Block E. After that we headed to the pro shop before the game to look around. We had tried to during on of the games, but the place was way too packed. After that we walked to Roy Smalley’s to have dinner and watch the game, with about 10 other people. The place was pretty empty, even for a week night. We still had a great time watching the game there, and it was good to see that they had it playing. Hopefully over time more people will stick around the park to watch the away games in the future.

Best Part: Having some nice slow paced time with Nikki to walk around and have a few drinks. It was very relaxing not having much of a schedule for the whole night.

Worst Part: Wish more fans were there to watch the game.

RATING: 3/5

Nikki’s Review
I can’t believe we haven’t done this before! It was really fun to just take our time heading downtown, check out Kieran’s for the first time, wander around downtown and have dinner while watching the game. I definitely look forward to doing this again in the future!

Best part of the night: The burger. Seriously, it is possibly the most delicious burger I have ever had!

Worst part of the night: Realizing that Happy Hour ‘deals’ don’t actually make the total bill that much less, especially when you have more than one drink.

RATING: 3/5

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On the road again – Astros vs Phillies April 27, 2010

Filed under: A Treat ($$$),Just Us,Out & About - Other — Nikki @ 5:06 pm

We flew to Texas for a few day getaway that included a night in Houston so we could catch a game at Minute Maid Park.
Daylight
Saturday, April 10, 2010 we started out with a stadium tour at 2pm. The tour took us to field level where we got to sit in the dugout and walk along the warning track around the whole park. We also got to sit in former Pres. Bush’s seats and see the owner’s suite! It was a fun way to see the ballpark and definitely worth the $9 charge.
Dugout
After the tour we decided to wait for the gates to open so we could score a free Throwback jersey shirt. We met a couple interesting guys in line & the hour or so passed fairly quickly, although the sun got hot & the sky threatened rain when it wasn’t sunny!
Lower Level
The game started at 6:05pm and was against the Philadelphia Phillies. We saw a couple firsts for the season…the first (and 2nd) Astros home run and the first Astros lead which unfortunately did not lead to the first Astros win. Some interesting things we learned about the park during the tour…
* There is a hill in center field that is in play
* The American Flag pole is on the hill in center field and is also in play
Hills?
* When there is an Astros home run the train that sits above left field moves along the track.
The Train
Chris’s Review
From the outside, closed Minute Maid park may be the ugliest park I have ever seen, but once inside when it is open, it is actually a pretty great ball park. Doing the tour was fun, and we got to go everywhere in the park, EXCEPT walking on the grass. It was nice to see another park so close, especially before the game.

Our hotel was close to the park so after the game we went back and grabbed a beer before the game. We had dinner there which is a must whenever you go to a new park. Fajitas were definitely the way to go.

The Astros lost, but it was still a fun game. It didn’t hurt that the couple next to us was very friendly, and we were able to talk to them about the Twins, and about how the Astros were doing (NOT good).

Best Part: Food, and fun. The tour was definitely worth going early for.

Worst Part: Nothing from the date, great night.

RATING: 4/5
Just Us
Nikki’s Review
Taking the stadium tour was a lot of fun! We got to see parts of the ballpark that most people never do, including the broadcast booth and the media cafeteria, the fancy-pants dining area for the Diamond Club guests and the old time scoreboard up close! We had a good time at the game too…there was some excitement with the home runs & the people sitting next to us were fun to talk to as well.

Best part of the night: Early in the game, a young boy sitting in the front row of our section (upper deck) was eating a hot dog & when he was just about done he threw it over the edge. “Look Dad, it flew like a bird!” is what he said. We laughed SO hard! Also, just being out in a new city is always fun with Chris.

Worst part of the night: The hotel we stayed at was very nice, but they had a wedding reception with very loud music until 11:30pm and then the wedding guests ran the halls every hour or so until 6 am. Needless to say, we didn’t get a lot of sleep that night, but that’s not part of the date I guess.

RATING: 5/5

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Minneapolis Art Institute April 25, 2010

Filed under: Free,Just Us,Out & About - Minneapolis/St Paul — Nikki @ 8:58 am

On Thursday, March 18, 2010 we headed over to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts to get a dose of culture. The MIA is free every day, but Thursday is the only day they’re open past 5pm which is why we choose to go then. It just so happened that it was the 3rd Thursday as well and that means they brought in a DJ and made it a more casual atmosphere.

One exhibit Nikki was really interested in was Foot In The Door. That is an exhibit that comes to the MIA every 10 years and it allows anyone to submit art as long as it fits within one cubic foot! We saw some very interesting things and were also able to find the photograph that was taken by Nikki’s Dad’s Cousin which was neat. Here are some of the items we saw on the tables:
Robot

Box

Shoes

Lady
This is what the walls looked like…and the photo we were looking for is in the middle – the duck one!
Wall
And, of course we saw other art too…the Photography area was called “Southern Exposure” and was all photographs of people, places and things in the Southern US. Here are a few other things we found in our adventure:
Furniture

Party Art

Lobster Phone

Chris’s Review
We have both been to the art institute, but we have never been together. We chose to go over on a Thursday so that we could have a good weekday date without all the crowds at the museum. The square foot installation was fun to see, but was pretty busy. After spending some time there we walked the halls of the almost empty museum, seeing most of the permanent exhibits. We had fun just looking and commenting on the art together, and it was great to not feel rushed at all.

Best Part: The cost, getting in is always free, but we did a donation anyway. Also, since there was a special exhibit going on, it was nice to have many of the areas to ourselves.

Worst Part: None, Great night together just talking.

RATING: 4/5

Nikki’s Review
I’ve realized recently that I’m not really a “museum” person. However, I know Chris enjoys museums so I am working on enjoying them as much as I can! I really liked the Foot In the Door exhibit, probably because I could relate to a lot of the items. If by any chance I remember…in 2020 I’m going to submit something!

Best part of the night: The music – I enjoyed the more laid back atmosphere at the museum. Also, having Chris point out the things that he really likes – it’s very interesting to me. Sometimes I’m surprised and sometimes I’m not!

Worst part of the night: Trying to convince Chris that even though there’s nothing I’m really anxious to see, that I’m also not bored!

RATING: 4/5

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Acadia Cafe & Mixed Blood Theater March 19, 2010

Filed under: Just Us,Moderate ($$),Out & About - Minneapolis/St Paul — Nikki @ 5:00 pm

On Friday, March 12, 2010 we had our date night at Mixed Blood Theater. For dinner before the show we ate at Acadia Cafe which was new to both of us. They have 30 beers on tap (“No crap on Tap”) and a good looking menu too! The show we saw, SOMEBODY/NOBODY, wrapped up earlier this week, but I’m guessing many of the shows are good. We went on a Friday night, but the tickets are half as expensive if you go Wednesday night so I think we’ll try that sometime for an inexpensive night out!

Chris’s Review
I have been to some local theater before, but never to the mixed blood theater. It was overall the standard low budget theater, but I think they are trying for a definite professional feel. The play that we saw was more of a comedy which was nice. Heavy plays can be a little off putting for a first time.

Having dinner and then heading over was great, and we had a really good time, even though it was a bit expensive.

Best Part: Quick dinner and time to talk with Nikki before the play, and having a nice stroll over to the theater.

Worst Part: The cost… the tickets were pretty expensive (~$30 each). I am sure that there are some places out there to get some deals. We did off set it with a pretty good cheap dinner.

RATING: 4/5

Nikki’s Review
I enjoy seeing live theater a lot more than Chris does…but I think we might have found a happy medium. Small theater shows seem more enjoyable to Chris than Broadway musicals so hopefully we’ll be able to find more local theaters to support!

Best part of the night: Dinner at Acadia was delicious & laughing out loud during the show was really fun!

Worst part of the night: There was an old lady who smelled REALLY bad…luckily Chris identified the source before we picked our seats so we could choose some far away from her!

RATING: 4/5

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Moose Mountain Adventure Golf March 15, 2010

moose mtn

On Monday, February 22, 2010 we headed over to the Mall of America for dinner (at Ruby Tuesday) and some miniature golf at Moose Mountain Adventure Golf. The golf course has construction on hole 6, so we got a $2 discount on our round of golf which made it <$15 total for both of us!

Here are a couple photos from the “adventure”:
first hole

chris

Chris’s Review
Miniature golf was fun, it was almost like we were back to some of our early dates together. The course at the mall is actually pretty well put together, and on the week night that we went we had no problems going through the course at a nice slow pace. It was alos nice to be able to sit down to dinner, without much of a wait. Overall a weekday night at the mall is pretty nice.

Best Part: No crowds! and it was cheaper since they were working on one of the holes, definitely worth 25% off to only play 17 holes. Overall it was actually pretty cheap.

Worst Part: Nikki schooled me on a couple of holes, and I am pretty sure that she had the only hole in one…

RATING: 4/5

Nikki’s Review
It’s weird, but MOA is now my “home” mall. It seems like Chris & I always have better conversation when we’re out at a restaurant than at home, which I guess is something that we should work on. It’s nice not having the distractions of the kitchen at home! I knew the mini-golf was at the Mall but we’ve never tried it & I figured it was at least seeing what it was like. Also, I needed to get my wedding band cleaned/inspected for the warranty so this was a practical trip too. 🙂

Best part of the night: Getting a hole in one! Chris beat me by 4 strokes overall…but I was the only one to get a Hole in One!

Worst part of the night: Lugging our coats through the mini-golf course. A coat check would be a nice thing to offer.

RATING: 3/5

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Policy & a Pint – Thomas Goetz February 22, 2010

On Thursday, February 18, 2010 we attended our fourth Policy & a Pint session. In the past we attended sessions on Education, the Environment and Justice. This session was about Healthcare and our individual responsibility for our own health.

From The Current website:
“Policy and a Pint” is an ongoing series co-sponsored by Minnesota Public Radio’s 89.3 The Current and Citizens League. The series’ goal is to provide an informal setting for the public to come and discuss important policy issues with community leaders and thinkers.

Policy & a Pint is hosted either at the Varsity Theater or at the UBS Forum at The Current Studios. We prefer the setup at The Current Studios over The Varsity for a few reasons:
1. Free parking in St Paul (some meters stop being monitored at 4:30)
2. The “pint” is included at the UBS Forum (in fact, it’s 2 per person!)
3. The food is higher quality and greater quantity at the UBS Forum

The speaker was Thomas Goetz, executive editor of Wired magazine and author of The Decision Tree.
Thomas Goetz
Thomas is educated with a Masters in Public Health and has obviously reviewed a lot of studies as well as human behavior. He said that only 3% of Americans follow 4 basic health guidelines. THREE PERCENT. You’d think these guidelines were impossible, wouldn’t you? Here they are, you judge for yourself:
1. Maintain a healthy body weight
2. Get some exercise
3. Eat vegetables
4. Don’t smoke

He also said something like “every decision we make affects our health.” EVERY decision…what you eat, how long to sleep, how much TV to watch/video games to play, drinking & driving…all day, every day. Almost everything has an impact on your health. I bet that’s not something that most people think about.

Chris’s Review
Policy and a pint will always get you thinking. Nikki and I agree on a lot of major issues, but it is fun to discuss some issues more in depth after hearing a different take on an issue. The night started out with some great appetizers and a couple beers, and afterward we found ourselves talking all the way home. It was great to talk and connect on something that we normally wouldn’t talk about. Great date night for a couple if they find the topic interesting.

Best Part: Having time to really sit and talk with Nikki before and after the policy talk.

Worst Part: None, awesome night.

RATING: 5/5

Nikki’s Review
I think I would attend almost any P&aP that is held at the UBS Forum because the food is so good! I have enjoyed all the speakers we’ve seen and recommend these events to people who like to think a little bit harder than normal every once in a while.

Best part of the night: Thinking about what my responsibility is for my health & how that will affect our lives together. Also, I loved the concept that EVERY decision we make throughout the day affects our health.

Worst part of the night: There were a couple questions that were awkward because it was someone looking for recognition rather than asking a question. For example: “I quit smoking 4 days ago, yep, it’s been 4 days since I had my last cigarette.” Good for you, buddy, get on with the questions!

RATING: 5/5

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