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Twin Cities Travelin' Episode Three: Como Zoo Conservatory and The Russian Teahouse


Hope you all have had a nice week.  I have been crazy busy but one of my newest favorite things is my Tuesday afternoons with Zhenya from  If you like fashion lifestyle blogs you HAVE to check hers out! She is super cool, witty, funny and most of all one of the nicest people around!

She made me the cutest necklace and bracelet!  I have to remember to take a picture of just those and show you what she made me!

Here we go in another episode of Twin Cities traveling with my girl Zhenya!

This week we wanted to go to The Como Zoo Conservatory and Zhenya (being from Russia) wanted to take me to the Russian Tea House for some piroshki!  <---what ever that is!

We started our day at the conservatory:

Como zoo is one of the coolest places in Minnesota (LET alone St. Paul).  This zoo has some crazy history (the polar bear apparently killed some drunk guy once).  The zoo was created in 1897 when the city was given a whopping 3 dear and some fencing...Lol. 

By the 1950's there were loads of animals, and even-though the zoo has been threatened to close for many reasons it remains to this day a donation only (meaning basically free) full zoo.  I like to give a few bucks every time I go there, But it is WAY cheaper than the MINNESOTA ZOO (an immediate 18$ ticket is manditory). It also houses one of the states beautiful Historical Places(Entered into the databse in 1975) the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory.  It was opened in 1915 and designed by Frederick Nussbaumer and commissioned by Marjorie McNeely.  It is open EVERYDAY of the year.  I can attest that it is just as beautiful in the winter as it is in the summer. 

Zhenya had been to the zoo with her pre-schoolers she teaches often (Oh yea...Did you know she is a teacher too!  She is going to participate in Augusts SLANTbox!) But told me she had never been to the conservatory!  

This is an abomination!

When you first walk into the conservatory it is GORGEOUS!!!  So sunny and green!

This is the main atrium.  There are MANY weddings here too.  IT is SUPER expensive though!

They have all the flowers and plants labeled with little placards.

ONe of the new exhibits of the Conservatory is the Japaneese Gardens.   As we were walking out to it I noticed that apparently Saint Paul and Nagasaki are sister cities.

I have no idea what this means...But that is pretty cool I guess!

I still had no idea so I looked it up!
This is from

What is a Sister City?

A sister city, county, or state relationship is a broad-based, long-term partnership between two communities in two countries. A sister city, county, or state relationship is officially recognized after the highest elected or appointed official from both communities sign off on an agreement.
A city may have any number of sister cities, with community involvement ranging from a half dozen to hundreds of volunteers. In addition to volunteers, sister city organizations may include representatives from nonprofits, municipal governments, the private sector, and other civic organizations.
Sister city relationships offer the flexibility to form connections between communities that are mutually beneficial and which address issues that are most relevant for partners.
I am still a little confused, but it is pretty bogus/neat I guess.
Because it was niceoutside we went around to the  Bonsai garden.

Did you know it is pronounced BONE-sigh.  I did not.  I thought it was BON-zzz-eye.  I leanred that there was some neat things about bonsai is that they try to cut the trees into triangles.  I am trying to figure out how I can use this cultural practice in my geometry unit this year!  LOL!  FEILD TRIP!!!!!

So we walked around outside to the Japanese Tea house.

This sign means Beautiful Plum Trees.  You can see three plum trees in the back ground.  This was the entrance into the tea house, you just have to walk around to the back.

So we did.

This is called a Roji Garden.  IT is the meditation path that you take to get into the tea house.  There is a fountain there (it has a bamboo stick poking out of it.) this is where you are supposed to wash your hands feet and mouth before the ceremony. 

I wish I would have remembered this nice ladies name.  She was so sweet and told us all about the building and ceremonies that happen once a week in this building.

IN this picture you can see the Ceremony door to the Japanese teahouse!  They are so small so you have to bow your head, and so that soldiers could not get in!

She showed us the traditional tea set up.
They drink a bitter green tea and they use the little bamboo spoon to put the tea in the bowl.  They eat a piece of candy to sweeten their mouth before they drink the tea. 

A person would whisk their tea with the traditional bamboo whisk which I thought was beautiful. 

The tea whisk is made from one piece of bamboo and split!

After we had our "learnin" in for the day, we walked around.  It is soooo serine and sweet there.  You are instantly quieter (well maybe not...we are both very loud and talkative).

WE also learned that the water in the Japanese gardens are died with tea to make the reflections more apparent and deeper in color. Look at the clouds in the water!

This was neat.

We walked on the contemplation bridges.

We stopped to take pictures. 

This was a fortune thing.  You were supposed to put a quarter in it and get a fortune...We did...but it just turned its head and stared at us.  Super creepy.  We walked away. Quickly.


THis is outside on our way out.  There is this large pool of water where the lilli-pads grow.  They are so pretty!

I am absolutely in love with this picture.  I put my <s>camera</s> iPhone down on the concrete that the water came just up to.  It looks like I was laying on the water!

Well we were done with the conservatory so we started our trek to the Russian Tea House! One thing you should know about me is even though I am allergic to EVERYTHING, I love trying new foods and beverages if I can.

I was pretty pumped to go!

It is literally a house!  So Cute.

But then...Oh no.

They are only open from 11-4 on Fridays.


Zhenya was bummed.

So we walked across the street to a thrift store.  Zhenya loves thrifting.

Outside of the thrift store was this cool graffiti along the wall!

So we took photos. Duh.

After we went into the shop (nothing was good).  We decided we were hungry still and went to Grand Ave in St. Paul.  A great little shopping area.  We parked in the neighborhood so we didnt have to pay for parking.  As we were walking to grand we passed the Stepping Stones Theater on Summit and Vicotria.

This is the largest performing theater for youth in the greater twin cities area!

I just love this little sculpture.  So sweet and whimsey. 

ONce we made it to Grand Ave. We decided to go to Salut for lunch.  It is a French/American restaurant with an uber-awesome patio.

Because the patio is good we had to wait a while for a table.  So I gave them my number and they said they would text us when the table was ready.  So we walked over to The Red Balloon Bookshop.

THis bookshop is quite possibly one of the CUTEST bookstores in the WORLD.  I CAN NOT WAIT to have children of my own to bring here and let them explore the wonderful world of books.

I found an autographed copy of Flora And Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo that I was going to buy but then this came!

AHAHAHAH!  So we went over to have lunch.

On the way out, (just out the door!) there was a community piano and it made me wish DEARLY that I remembered a good song on the piano and not the silly knuckle song!

Saint Paul has quite a few of these.

Well anyway we sat down and ate food that keeps french women skinny.

All in all we had a great time!

I can't stop moving.

Up next week is Zhenya's birthday on Tuesday so I have to plan big!  We are going to bum around Saint Anthony Main, and go to the GUTHRIE theater!  Another building that I can't believe that Zhenya hasn't been to yet!

Stay tuned!

J and Z



  1. I feel like our TCTravelin' adventures get better and better every time!


    PS. See you tomorrow!


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