Though it advertises itself as the largest no-kill shelter in the Twin Cities, Animal Ark’s homey facility seems more like a relaxing retreat for the more than 1,000 homeless cats, dogs, and rabbits that come through its doors each year. Cats bask in sunlight within feline apartments as dogs lounge atop soft raised beds in their own spacious kennels, sinking teeth into chew toys and treats. Of course, time at Animal Ark isn't all leisure. Canines awaiting their forever homes stretch their legs across a large outdoor play yard, aptly named the Ark Park, where ample trees and greenery mix with park benches where dogs can train their human friends to sit.
Potential owners can also get to know adoptable pets online. The website posts a first-person profile of each available animal that lists its breed, personality, and master’s degrees.
The certified technicians at MWJ Heating travel to customers' homes to diagnose and fix any problems with household heating systems. During the 45-minute inspection, a furnace specialist will investigate domestic heat conjurers of all types, ensuring properly functioning chambers, flowing ducts, and soot-free Yule logs. After assessing and repairing temperature-regulating troubles, the mechanical troupe will leave manors securely heated and free from midwinter breakdowns and unsolicited snowman intrusions.
The Zywiec family, owners of Zywiec?s Garden Center for more than a quarter century, offer their green thumbs and botanical expertise to customers year round. They coach and outfit clients for DIY yard improvement projects, or come out to homes and take care of landscaping themselves. They've also transformed their garden store into a gathering place that always offers some form of seasonal attraction. In the spring, for instance, they host planting parties at which attendees put together their own containers of young plants; the Zywiecs then nurture the pots until the weather warms up enough to put the flora out. In the summer, they serve ice cream and homegrown sweet corn. Come fall, its time for their haunted house and zombie paintball attractions. And, of course, winter means Christmas trees, wreaths, and garlands.
At Stillwater Boat Rentals, adventurous explorers can enjoy the scenic views of the St. Croix River while perched in a pontoon boat that seats 10–14 passengers, depending on the boat's size. Blaze new trails through thickly-forested waterways while commandeering one of Stillwater’s six novice-friendly, 22-foot pontoon rental boats, available in three styles. The Deluxe ($270 for four hours) seats 12 people and offers plush lounge seating for posteriors of all types, while the spacious Super LX ($255 for four hours) seats 14 passengers, allowing Parliament Funkadelic tribute bands to enjoy maritime merriment in between Minnesota gigs. Stillwater's third and final pontoon style, the Fish & Cruise ($270 for four hours) seats 10 passengers and, with its swivel seats and fish-finder equipment, is ideal for fishing fanatics. Starting out at the Stillwater Marina Gas Dock near historic downtown Stillwater, enthusiastic river pilots can wreak wake havoc for five miles to the north, viewing limestone bluffs, braving backwater mazes, and invading island wildernesses claimed by bearded castaways before reaching the turnaround point at the high bridge. From there, pontooners can pontificate on the origin of river spirits and disrupt random beach parties all the way down to Prescott, Wisconsin, before returning.
At Abbott Paint, dwellers seeking to bedeck humble abodes can choose from an array of colorfying products, such as paints, varnishes, stains, and carpet. Buyers can revel in environmentally-friendly options with one-on-one assistance from the shop's experienced, helpful staff. Brighten pale walls with one of several liquid pigments, including Benjamin Moore Regal Select ($47.99 per gallon) or the Abbott Private Label ($31.99 per gal.). Terrestrial patrons can celebrate Earth Day by using California Elements' zero VOC low-odor flat paint ($48.49 per gal.).
As a child, Brian Axdahl and his sister loved heading to the end of their road to sell their father's sweet corn and freshly picked vegetables. Just as Axdahl's Garden Farm & Greenhouse evolved from his father's hobby into a large-scale business, Brian's involvement soon evolved from roadside seller to current owner.
Approved by the Food Alliance Midwest, Axdahl's sustainable approach to crop growing ensures pesticide-free yields and ensure healthy produce with every bounty. Through a Community Supported Agriculture program, he distributes produce shares at various pickup sites over a 20-week period each year. The program partially overlaps with the farm's vegetable season, when Axdahl's crew harvests produce ranging from bi-color sweet corn to zucchini.
When not tending to their land, Axdahl's Garden Farm & Greenhouse stays busy ushering in the farm's other seasons. From May to September, fruit trees, hardy shrubs, and more than 50 combinations of hanging basket await new homes from their spots in the greenhouse. In autumn, the farm entices visitors with a corn maze and a pick-your-own pumpkin patch. Inside a restored red barn, more autumnal treats reside, including decorated indian corn and fall mums. To ring in the winter holidays, Axdahl's treats guests to free hot cider and hot chocolate as they select holiday decorations such as Christmas trees and custom-decorated wreaths.