The Summer of Saying “Yes!”

by | Jul 2024

Two Silo Winery and Vineyard

Two Silo Winery and Vineyard. Photo: Chris Emeott

When I was in school, I made a goal for myself to say “yes” more. It was a decision inspired by the 2008 rom-com Yes Man, starring Jim Carrey; Carrey plays a man stuck in a negative pattern who learns the power of saying “yes,” a decision that brings joy and new adventures.

As a young person with the world at my fingertips, I noticed that my shyness and anxiety had started to hold me back from new experiences. By saying “yes,” I hoped to rewire my brain to embrace the unknown. Suffice to say, it worked! By the time I graduated high school, I had accomplished some big goals—including enrolling in a college 1,700 miles from home.

This year, I’ve embraced a similar goal. I’m already building a life I love, and I’m in the perfect place to try something (or a couple things) that spark my curiosity. So, without further ado, I’m diving into some of my top ideas to make the summer of 2024 the best yet!

Wine Tasting

High on my list of to-dos this summer is to explore local wineries. It’s been a wish of mine for several years to stop by all of the East Metro wineries, and I still have few to check off.

While there’s no formal wine trail in the White Bear Lake area, I encourage you to blaze your own trail—it’s sure to make for a fabulous day or weekend excursion.

Just three miles from downtown White Bear Lake, 7 Vines Vineyard and Winery is a local destination. The Dellwood winery, founded by high school sweethearts Ron and Arlie Peltier, celebrates its seventh anniversary this autumn. Stop by to enjoy acres of rolling vineyard and a beautiful indoor space. The wine bar includes a diverse offering of beverages, alongside a menu of flatbreads, shareables, sandwiches, soups and salads. Its 60-minute Tour and Taste Experience ($40) gives visitors an overview of the winery with insight into grape growing. Plus, tastings of current releases are paired with gourmet bites. Tours are offered Wednesday to Sunday, pending private events; times vary. 101 MN-96, Dellwood; 651.478.6300;

Two Silo Winery and Vineyard in Grant recently celebrated its one year anniversary. The 22-acre family-owned and operated winery is home to more than 2,300 vines. Co-owner Jan Denhert describes Two Silo as “country casual,” adding that it’s an ideal spot to relax after a long day. Along with wine by the glass and a curated food menu, Two Silo offers multiple tasting options: a 60-minute VIP tasting in Pappouli’s Cave ($45, 2 p.m. on Saturdays); and a walking tour and tasting, where visitors learn about the wines and vines of Two Silo on a 90-minute tour around the property ($60, noon on Saturdays). 7040 117th St. N., Grant; 651.493.6763;

Located at Aamodt’s Apple Farm in Stillwater, Saint Croix Vineyards has been a staple winery in the area for three decades. The vineyard’s wines have garnered more than 100 awards in both national and international competitions. Stop by for $15 flights, or make a reservation for a private tour and wine tasting (minimum fee of $250 covers up to 10 people). Public tours are also available throughout the summer, along with live music Saturday afternoons from June to August. 6428 Manning Ave. N., Stillwater; 651.430.3310;

If you’re open to going a bit further, check out Rustic Roots in Scandia (22 miles from White Bear Lake). The 80-acre estate-style vineyard opened in 2020 and features an expansive patio and indoor tasting room with wines available by the flight, glass or bottle alongside homemade cider and other beverage offerings. 20168 St. Croix Trail N., Scandia; 651.433.3311;

Pursue a New Craft

This year, I’m all about creativity. Gearing up for summer, I spent hours perusing books on quilting, knitting and pottery—hobbies that I’m curious to try in 2024.

As I began to look into classes in the area, I first reached out to Lexi Munson—a local artist with a very neat story. Munson works at White Bear Center for the Arts (WBCA) as the membership and development coordinator and internship administrator; she’s also a member of this magazine’s Editorial Advisory Board.

At the age of 11, she took her first art class through WBCA, part of the Imagine Art Youth Summer Camp. A few years later, she took a teen pottery class with Adama Sow, and “the rest was history,” Munson says. “I started taking classes three days a week. I wasn’t at school, I was [at WBCA]. It was basically my second home.”

Pottery and alcohol ink are just two of many classes at White Bear Center for the Arts that cater to beginners.

Pottery and alcohol ink are just two of many classes at White Bear Center for the Arts that cater to beginners. Photos: White Bear Center for the Arts

Now, she’s doing work she loves at the very same place she got her start. “It’s just such a welcoming place,” says Munson, who now has her own pottery business along with her role at WBCA. “Everyone is so happy to see new faces. We have beginner classes for that reason, so people don’t feel like they’re out of place.”

Munson highly recommends WBCA’s beginner pottery classes. “You can’t go wrong with any of our instructors. They’re all just kind and very encouraging and supportive,” Munson says. “… I also recommend Alcohol Ink with Sylvia Benson to a lot of newcomers … It’s a pretty free-flowing medium, so you just let it do what it wants to do, so that’s always great for beginners.”

Munson loves hearing stories of folks who stepped out of their comfort zone and took a course. “Now, they’ve got this whole new community that once, I’m sure, felt like a bunch of strangers to them,” Munson says. “…They’ve got a new group of friends and peers to connect with.”

WBCA releases seasonal catalogs with course offerings. You can register for a course online or via phone, with offerings ranging from dance and movement to jewelry and painting. Whatever your age, background or skill, there’s something for you. 4971 Long Ave., White Bear Lake; 651.407.0597;

Into the Woods

I was perusing White Bear Lake’s community services and recreation catalog recently (as one does, and should!), when I came across a class that sounded particularly interesting: forest bathing. Contrary to what the name suggests, the class does not involve a bathtub in the woods; it’s an introduction to the Japanese art of shinrin-yoku and encourages one to take in the forest with all senses.

Unlike taking a traditional nature walk, the practice is an intentional exploration of the world around us—at a snail’s pace.

Now summer, to me, is all about embracing the warmth and time outdoors—what better way to enjoy the season than to try out forest bathing? To learn more, I connected with certified forest therapy guide and landscape architect David Motzenbecker of Motz Studios Forest Bathing Experiences.

Forest bathing is a low impact way to explore the natural world, with the added potential benefit of improved mood and focus and reduced stress and blood pressure.

Forest bathing is a low impact way to explore the natural world, with the added potential benefit of improved mood and focus and reduced stress and blood pressure. Photo: Motz Studios

“As human beings, we are desperately in need of this connection beyond ourselves,” says Motzenbecker, who has led more than 270 walks to over 1,800 participants since 2018. “Epidemics of loneliness are off the charts … people are still just feeling driftless. We need human connection, and we need more than human connection. Forest bathing is a great opportunity for both of those.”

Motzenbecker’s guided forest bathing walks at Tamarack Nature Center encourage moments of community and solitude—of sharing and invitation—without technology. “It’s not a hike; our goal isn’t to get from point A to point B in two hours … if we only get 100 feet, we only get 100 feet. It’s super low impact,” he says.

In my conversation with Motzenbecker, I learned that even those who are frequently in nature have something to gain from the experience.

“There’s tons of research that being in the woods reduces blood pressure, reduces stress, improves your focus, improves your mood,” Motzenbecker says. “… I’m hoping people come out of it relaxed, happier, kinder and just more aware of the power of the natural world.”

Interested in trying out forest bathing at Tamarack Nature Center? Visit to view upcoming events. Enrollment is $40 for a 2-hour guided walk, open to ages 18 and older.


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