Birchwood Cafe

Birchwood Cafe is found at 3311 25th Street in Minneapolis, in the Seward neighborhood. There is plenty of free parking along 25th Street and neighboring blocks. It's also close to the Mississippi, so if you are out for a walk, run or bike, come land at Birchwood! It's open seven days a week.
Birchwood Cafe is owned by Tracy Singleton, who has a passion for serving delicious farm-to-table meals. Ingredients come from MN, WI and Iowa. A list of specific farms is located here. Call them at 612-722-4474.

Posted In: Resources, Restaurants

A Word (or few) on Safe Skin Care

While we are here together talking about safe products, I'd be remiss if I didn't make a quick plea to consider, if you haven't already, the products we use on our bodies.

My intention is not to be on a soap box. But it is a true story that our largest organ is our skin, and it absorbs everything we put on it. Our clean-up-crew organs (liver and kidneys) do a lot of work and I know they appreciate it when we choose to use products that don't contain chemicals that do damage to us.

Here are a couple of moisturizers that are safe products for our bodies:

Coconut Oil: This is an effective moisturizer for your whole body. Lips, too! If you have sensitive skin (I do!), I don't recommend using this on your face. If you practice the no-poo shampoo method, one drop of coconut oil diluted in a cup of water makes a good once in awhile conditioner for the ends of your hair.

Aloe Vera: Another great moisturizer! I use this all over, plus lips and face. My face does not break out from this! I use parts of my aloe plant, but have also used Lily Of The Desert Aloe Very Gelly with great success!

We Can't Forget Deodorant!
I noticed on the label of my regular, run-of-the-mill anti-perspirant a warning label, stating that one should consult with their physican if they have kidney issues before use. WHAT?! Further research taught me that anti-perspirants contain aluminum, which is hard for kidneys to process, and it can build up in the system. High aluminum levels are linked to dementia. It is nearly impossible to use so much anti-perspirant that this would ever be an issue. The warning label is really intended for people who fit the criteria of having stage 4 or 5 kidney disease.
Check out this article about it from the National Kidney Foundation.
That being said, I myself have one kidney and guess what? I am taking such good care of my kidney, and not using regular anti-perspirants unless wherever I am going is such a big deal that it warrants it. There are numerous products available for deodorizing without all the chemicals in normal deodorants and anti-perspirants. Here are a few:

The Crystal
Tom's of Maine

Here is a little known fact, and you'll see why it's little known....On a day to day basis, I don't wear either deodorant or anti-perspirant. I say it a little sheepishly on the off chance that I smell like my son's gym bag but no one is willing to say it to me. My experience has been that when I first stopped, I sweat a lot, almost like my skin was clearing out the pores clogged up by chemicals. After a little time, that stopped. I still sweat, but not enough to show up on clothes, and it doesn't smell. Partially because I am clean, but also because there's nothing clogging those pores, no bacteria etc. Most people probably aren't as hard core as I am regarding this area.

Shampoo and Conditioner

There are several shampoos and conditioners on the market right now that are sulfate free and working towards eliminating more and more chemicals from them. Our scalp is skin too, and absorbs whatever is put on it. Our hair becomes coated as well. I have not tried the brands that I am about to list, but I would use them and feel good about it.

Free & Clear

And here is an all natural do-it-yourself shampoo worth trying!

I myself used the no-shampoo method for a year, maybe a little more. Here is a great website with lots of info if you are interested. My hair was absolutely fantastic, and I only needed to wash it once every 10 days or so (sounds crazy, doesn't it?), but I had to change it up some because the baking soda was starting to have a different effect and I didn't like it. I happen to have very, very thick hair. I won't bore you with details of what I do now, but do ask if you are interested.

Posted In: Green Basics

Environmentally Friendly Home Cleaning Products

These days manyof us are becoming more aware of the products and the chemicals they contain around us. When it comes to cleaning our homes, one trip down the cleaning aisle at the store provides plenty of choices. But are they all healthy choices, for us and/or our enviornment?
While it is becoming more...becoming to use enviornmentally friendly products (I will share my favorites shortly), we also have a much less expensive and easy to do option: make our own. There is an incredible array of products we can make with items likely on hand at home that work just as well- if not better- than store bought chemically laden products.
Below you will find a list of recipes to create your own cleaning products that will leave your house sparkling clean! Here is a list of the top 6 items to have on hand- with these 6 items, you can make *alomst* any cleaner, including laundry detergent, that you will need.

Grocery List:
Super Washing Soda
Castile Soap
Essential oils (tea tree, lemon, lavendar and orange are favorites, but you pick!)
Baking Soda
White Vinegar (get a jug, you will use this a lot!)

Also, an empty spray bottle and air tight container (if you choose to make the laundry detergent or carpet freshener).

All Purpose Cleaner

Recipe #1
Diluted White Vinegar
1:4 parts water, in a spray bottle. Vinegar is truly incredible. The mild acidity of vinegar dissolves soap scum, dirt, and hard water deposits from smooth surfaces. It is also microbial. Use on countertops in the kitchen and bathroom, toilets, showers and all flooring, including wood!The scent of vinegar dissapears as it dries.

Recipe #2
Undiluted White Vinegar
Use white vinegar straight from the container for the tougher soap scum or water deposits. Spray or apply vinegar, let sit for 10 to 15 minutes and then scrub the grime away. If an abrasive would be helpful, apply baking soda to area before scrubbing. This works great on porcelain tubs and toilets.

If the smell of vinegar is a non-negotiable for you, try this:

Recipe #3
1/2 Cup White Vinegar
2Tbsp baking soda
10 drops essential oil of your choosing (tea tree, lavendar or lemon contain disinfecting properties).

In the event that you have come across something that requires more than what vinegar can do even with baking soda, try this!

Homemade Soft Scrub

1 1/2 cups baking soda
1/8 of a cup of castile soap
1/8 of a cup of water
10 drops essential oil of your choosing (remember that tea tree, lavendar or lemon disinfect!)
Mix ingredients together to form a paste. Apply and scrub that soil away! Store remainder in an air tight container. If it dries out, a little water will loosen it back up.

Homemade Carpet Freshener

2 cups Borax
1 cup baking soda
10 drops essential oil of your choosing

Combine together and store in an air tight container. Sprinkle on carpet and let it sit for up to a half an hour, and vacuum!
Va-voom fresh!

Check out this Wiki How Page to learn how to make your own laundry detergent, liquid or powder. There are a few different recipes, and I've tried and had success with two. I have a house full, all the time, and the laundry Never Ends. I'm thankful for a less expensive, nicer-to-the-enviornment option!

As promised above, here is a list of my favorite go-to's at the store. I admit that sometimes I like to change things up a bit. These are products I use guilt free. I invite you to check out their web pages to read their inspiring stories!

Mrs. Meyers Clean Day
Dr. Bronner's All-One
Simple Green

Happy Cleaning To You!!

Posted In: Green Basics

Go. See. Do.

The Minneapolis- St. Paul metro area is packed full of things to do. There is always something fun going on or something to look forward to. I've put together a list of interesting events in the Twin Cities metro area worth checking out. Enjoy!

Apple Valley

Apple Valley is just 5 minutes from the Mall of America, and less than that to the Twin Cities Premium Outlet Mall in Eagan. It's 20 minutes from both Minneapolis and St. Paul. Two of Apple Valley's permanent popular features are the MN Zoo, found here, which contains the IMAX Theatre.


Bloomington is home to the  Mall of America, found here. With 520 stores, 50 restaurants, and Nickelodeon Universe, who couldn't find something to do?

The Bloomington Center for the Arts is located at the north end of the Bloomington Civic Plaza here. It includes two theaters, two galleries, a dance studio and rehearsal area, and art classrooms.


If the urge to shop and eat is strong, as well as the urge to be outside enjoying some gorgeous MN weather, then the Twin Cities Premium Outlets is calling your name! It features over 100 stores, near the intersection of Highway 13 and Highway 77. It is the largest outdoor shopping center in the upper midwest. Enjoy!

Eagan also contains the largest municipal waterpark in the Upper Midwest, Cascade Bay ! Located here , this outstanding waterpark features waterslides, a lazy river, snackbar as well as a 9 hole miniature golf course. The park received WCCO's Viewer's Choice for Best Outdoor Waterpark!

Lebanon Hills Regional Park found here , is the largest regional park in Dakota County, boasting 2000 acres. You'll find miles of trails and many lakes here. Dakota County is actively restoring more than 1,100 acres of prairie and forest within the Park, and planting more than 3,000 new trees.


Looking for a fantastic urban escape? Check out Centennial Lakes Park ! This 24 acre park contains more than 1.5 miles of paved pathways that meander around a 10 acre lake. Find seating areas, swinging benches and fountains throughout this beautifully landscaped sweet spot! You will also find a mini golf course, lawn bowling, paddleboat and fishing pole rental as well as ice scaking in the winter months. Located here , many restaurants are within walking distance.

Edinborough Park is the absolute place to be when the kids need to burn some energy! This completely enclosed 1 acre park features one of the biggest indoor play structures in the country, a running track, fitness room, swimming pools and a multi purpuse family play area with a bouncy house, scooters and more.

Feel like locking yourself away from the world? Check out Missing Pieces Escape Games located at 5233 Edina Industrial Blvd. Choose from 2 different rooms, players of 4 to 8 try to find the clues within the room that will lead to their escape. Ages 10-15 must be accompanied by an adult. Call 952-658-8974 to make your reservation.

Southdale Mall located at 66th and France Ave , is the nation's first indoor shopping mall. It opened in 1956 and has over 120 specialty shops as well as food court and child play area.


Minneapolis is home to some spectacular annual events. During the gorgeous month of June, the Stone Arch Bridge Festival takes place. It's a weekend of art and music on the riverfront. A car show, motorcycle gallery, art activites and 4 performance stages sets the tone. Over 250 artists participate! Find the directions and parking info herehere.

Art-A-Whirl happens the 3rd weekend in May and it is the largest open studio tour in the country! It's free to the public and a wonderful opportunity to tour private studios and galleries, connect with the artists, and buy artwork. Not to mention the fantastic historical buildings you will enter! Art-A-Whirl takes place throughout Northeast Minneapolis in more than 50 different locations. Check out this page for tips on navigating through this amazing event.

Winter is not to be forgotten- and could we really forget? Come and play at the City of Lakes Loppet ! Held the last weekend in January and the first weekend in February, this urban cross country ski festival hosts people from near and far. PArticipate or spectate, the weekends are packed full of activities! Check this page for visitor information!

The Mill City Museum is a great time no matter what time of year it is! It is easy to locate , look for the Gold Medal Flour sign on the top of the building. The flour mill was once the world's largest. Kids of all ages enjoy this museum, especially the Flour Tower to the upper levels. Call 612-341-7556 to make reservations.

Love yoga? If you are a novice or an expert yogi, you are going to love Corepower Yoga's free summer classes outdoors! Check out their
Summer Yoga Free Classes Guide , get outside and find your center. Namaste!


Craving nature in the middle of the city? Visit Woodlake Nature Center at 6710 Lake Shore Dr. This fantastic 150 acre cattail marsh contains 3 miles of wheel chair accessible trails. Over 200 species of migrating birds can be found here, along with many other animals. Cross country skiing, shoeshoeing and ski rental availabe in the winter. Naturalists on site, interpretive building houses exibit the wildlife found typical of the area. Free unless part of a Naturalist-led activity.

Come see the oldest home in Richfield! The Bartholomew House is across Lyndale Ave from Woodlake Nature Center. It is a donation based, volunteer run museum. The home was built in 1852 and is intact today, along with many items from the original and subsequent families that lived in it.



St. Paul

The Wabasha Street Caves is a must see if you are anywhere in the area! You'll find them here . Enjoy walking tours, which includes either a 40 minute historic cave tour or a one hour long lost souls tour. Also offered are Bus tours, Swing Nights on Thursdays, and a restaurant. Call to make your reservations and prepare for an outstanding time!651-224-1191

You can't miss the Minnesota State Fair ! For 10 days each year at the end of August through Labor Day, hundreds of thousands come to enjoy the food, games, exhibits, concerts, animals and camping! Located at 1254 Snelling Ave So. , it is rated as one of the top 5 state fairs in the country!

But let's not forget winter! St. Paul hosts the yearly Winter Carnival , held in Rice Park . Featuring 3 parades, the treasure hunt, winter run, disc golf ice bowl, ice palaces, food and drinks, you will love wiling away the winter blues here! Held the last week in January through the first week of February, most events are free or low cost unless otherwise noted on the website.

The Como Park Zoo and Conservatory is a free (voluntary donations happily accepted) zoo and conservatory open every day of the year. The Conservatory features numerous stunning gardens that are fantastic year round, but a real pick-me-up in the long winter months when we are craving green spaces and scents. Zoo attractions include gorillas, polar bears, flamingos, monkeys,wolves, zebras, sloths, and big cats to name just a few. Enjoy a snack at one of the food carts, the Zobota Cafe or Zooper Foods out in the zoo. This is a terrific way to spend any day!!

Near The Metro Area Have To's:

Zip Line Minnesota offers two locations for a wild ride, Brainerd and Henderson, MN (45 minutes from Minneapolis, found here ). The Kerfoot Canopy Tour will engage you for 2.5 hours along 14 zip lines! Two trained guides take small groups on the course. The lines get progressively higher, longer and faster as you move through the course. For ages 10 and up. Call 952-873-3901 to make your reservation!

Posted In: Guides, Places to visit


I have heard such great things about this restaurant from several people but haven't had the time to get over there myself. When I do, you'll bet that I'll take some photos and include my opinion on this restaurant.

Posted In: Resources, Restaurants

Tips to help prevent burglaries

j0289537Our local TV station went out and talked with 86 burglars and asked them what they look for when they broke into homes. The couple of take-away points that they said really deters burglars are:
Leave the tv or radio on.
Loud barking dogs.
Leave a vehicle in the driveway.
Make the front and back doors visible, not hidden with bushes.
Lock all doors and windows.
Lock the front porch if you have one.

The article is worth the read:
Kare 11- We asked 86 burglars how they broke into homes

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Posted In: sellers

Size Does Matter - Misleading Square Footage

floor-planMeasuring square footage of a home is not as easy as it sounds. Do you measure the outside of the foundation and include it in the finished square footage? In this brief article, I'll cover some of the basics of the various methods of measuring, as well as definitions of how we use square footage in our MLS systems.

Measuring Methods

ANSI Z765-2003

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has a published paper about measuring square footage, which they call floor area. This document is called the ANSI Z765-2003.

In this document they talk about how they define their standard way of measuring a home, which includes how to include stairways, whether a protruding window (bay window) is included, what is above grade, how to deal with sloped ceilings, kneewalls, open staircases, etc. This method is not widely known in the real estate industry as only some people use this method. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) recommends this standard.

Appraisers, although they may follow ANSI guidelines, report sqft in Gross Living Area, or Gross Building Area. This measurement of area may be different than the ANSI standard, depending on the local customs. (more…)

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Posted In: Buyers, sellers
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