A Weekend in Minneapolis Recap

We just spent a long weekend in Minneapolis.  As you probably know, Kelsey lives here, and I grew up here so I had a pretty good grasp on what I wanted to do before we came.  I LIVE for the MN State Fair – the cheese curds, the people watching – it’s the best.  We were here the same time as the fair, but I didn’t think it would make much sense to drag a 16 month around, and it also rained a good bit over the weekend.  Instead we tried to focus on more toddler friendly activities, and wanted to spend time with my parents and Kelsey and the girls.

Eat:

Convention Grill
Edina, MN

This is just a “full order” of fries. Make sure to order them extra crispy, or they are a bit limp.

Convention Grill is one of those old standbys that I have to do every time I’m home.  The food is nothing extraordinary, but it’s good burgers, fries and shakes.  (I know Kelsey always gets the chicken soup like a weirdo, so I’m assuming that’s good too.) It’s been around for ever, and not only did I used to come here growing up, but so did my parents!  It’s cute and 50’s looking, and not fancy aka perfect place to bring a loud toddler.

Pizzeria Lola
Minneapolis, MN


It was super busy, even at 4:00 pm on a Saturday, but we didn’t have to wait long.  Again, it’s a loud and casual restaurant, so perfect for kids.  They gave her a cup of goldfish crackers while we waited, which was awesome.  She usually loves pizza, but wasn’t going for it tonight.  Instead she ended up eating almost 2 entire ears of roasted corn, which was on their special that evening.  The grownups all liked the pizza though (Korean BBQ, The Boise, & My Sharon-i.)

The Lynhall
Minneapolis, MN


I actually went here twice.  My husband and I went here for drinks one night, and then we came back the next morning for brunch with my parents and daughter.  It’s a huge, gorgeous space, with the most thoughtful little details everywhere.  This place was made for your Instagram.

 

Sebastian Joe’s
Minneapolis, MN

Our favorite ice cream joint (besides Izzy’s) in Minneapolis.  They added on, and now have a cute patio and more seating.  The girls had fun running around, and we found a cute bench nearby for some pictures.  Not sure if you have ever tried to get 3 kids under 3 to all look in the same direction at the same time and smile, but it’s not do-able.

Drink

Northern Coffeeworks
Minneapolis, MN

Northern Coffee - best coffee shop in Minneapolis

Again, this is where your Instagram dreams come true.  This place is light and industrial in all the right places.  We got a smoked sea salt mocha and an iced espresso drink with maple and orange called Cabin Vibes. Both delish.

Wesley Andrews
Minneapolis, MN

Wesley Andrews - best coffee in Minneapolis
No caffeine and still running wild.

This was more of a tea place, and I’m not a huge tea person but we did end up getting a cold brew and a realllllyyyy good iced vanilla mocha.  They were out of the kombucha I wanted to try.

Volstead’s Emporium

We were looking for a fun place to grab a cocktail, and this had good reviews and was near where we were in Uptown.  It’s a “speakeasy” and took us a minute to find it in some alleyway.  The door guy opens a little eye hole and then let us in.  Once you go down a dirty staircase, the bar is pretty cool.  It was dark so I couldn’t really get any pictures, but it definitely looked the part of an old speakeasy.  We sat at a table, and the mirror on the wall opened up and the waiter appeared and took our drink orders.  The drinks were pretty meh and everyone there was very friendly, but our server had no interest in helping me find a cocktail that wasn’t on their limited menu. I’d definitely come back again just for the novelty of it though.

Do

Wild Rumpus Book Store
Minneapolis, MN

The last time I went to Wild Rumpus, I was pregnant with Gigi!  It is the cutest little bookshop with a silkie chicken running around.  I think last time I was there, there were kittens too.  They have tons of fun and different books you wouldn’t find at a regular book store.  Things are a little pricy; Georgia ended up picking out a $36 dollar squirrel puppet (sorry Grandma and Grandpa) but worth it.  She loved chasing the poor chicken and seeing all the other kids.  I think next year when she’s a bit older she will enjoy it even more.

First Avenue
Minneapolis, MN

Ok I’ll be honest, we only walked by here after our coffee so I could take a picture next to the Prince star, because I’m basic like that. It’s famous as a venue where tons of big artists got their start their.  I had to laugh because I saw Hanson was doing a (sold out) show there.  We also walked by at night, and there was some prime people watching.  Lots of black latex, crazy hairs, and someone had a cat tail?

Minneapolis Sculpture Garden
Minneapolis, MN

Fun outdoor park with the iconic Spoonbridge and Cherry, as well as lots of others.  There’s also a really cute looking mini golf, but we didn’t do it.  Highlights included enjoying the weather while walking around, and watching some little kid play in the disgusting duck pond water while his parents spent a good 15 minutes trying to get a photo where it looked like the mom was eating the cherry.

Crayola Experience
Mall of America – Bloomington, MN

Kelsey already did a video on this here, and they have an annual pass so we ended up getting in for free as their guests.  It is huge and there’s tons of stuff for kids of all ages. If they had that in Phoenix, I would definitely buy a pass!

Gold Medal Park
Minneapolis, MN

Gold medal flour park

All in all the weekend was a total success.  We wished we could have spent about another week there!

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Vegas Trip Roundup: Part Two

We woke up Saturday morning fresh as daisies- one of the best things about no longer being cool party people. GO US!

We took our time getting ready, and decided our first meal of the day would be lunch at secret pizza inside the Cosmopolitan. Its not much of a ‘secret’ anymore… but it was still good. We found a prime location right outside of secret pizza with sofas and a coffee table to set our food on. It was the perfect people watching spot, near the Marquee pool party. Let me just say, of all the people watching locations… Cosmopolitan was our favorite.

We headed out shopping again after letting our carbs settle. I had spent the first shopping excursion comparing handbags at different spots, and I finally had made my decision: it was time to buy.

I’m not a gambler, so buying designer bags is how I choose to be irresponsible. I decided on Balenciaga…in the forum shops.. Because crystals mall is apparently a place for all of us regular slobs to have “pretty woman” experiences.

After that we chose to cool off and have a Diet Coke, then head back to clean up for dinner.

Our Saturday night dinner was  at Scarpetta inside the Cosmo (once again… sensing a theme?)

 

My short rib agnolotti
Danielles Tagliatelle

It was carb heaven. I highly recommend.

After dinner it was Backstreet Boys time at Planet Hollywood. It was all good except for a diminutive asian lady usher who screamed at us NOT TO USE OUR FLASH. Not gonna lie, she sort of sucked the fun and excitement out of the moment briefly.

I should be giving you my review of the show, but if I’m being completely honest… I’m not a huge BSB fan…. shhhh don’t tell.

After the show our cool friends went to some cool club with other cool people….

Danielle and I changed into comfy clothing and hit up Momofuku Milk bar at Cosmopolitan… again.

Ice cream- old people’s version of cocktails

Sunday was our last little bit of kidless freedom so we got up early and headed to Aria to try out Jean Phillipe Patisserie.

Most adorable chocolate shoe ever at Jean Phillipe

I got a crepe, and Dani got a ham and cheese filled croissant.

Best picture I took in Vegas: Danielles extreme RBF while waiting for her croissant.

We also learned grown adults still sometimes try to cut in lines. Those people learned I don’t screw around with etiquette ( my biggest pet peeve is bad manners), I totally will call you out for being rude in public.

Danielle drove me to the airport and in a funny twist of fate I sat right next to one of my clients on the flight back. We exchanged stories and I’m pretty sure he now thinks I’m the most boring person alive. oh well……

Tot Activities: The Odysea Aquarium

I was hemming and hawing about buying passes when The Odysea Aquarium opened up.  I thought my daughter might like to see the fish, but the Yelp reviews were all over the place and I couldn’t decide if it was worth it or not.  When summer rolled around, they had a special deal for annual passes. $69.95 for an adult versus $34.95 for a daily pass.  I do not think it’s worth the cost for the daily pass, at least for this age, but the annual pass is a steal.  We have gone there almost every week this summer, because it’s nice just to have an air conditioned place to run around.

The aquarium itself is a lot smaller than it appears from the outside.  The complex is actually mostly restaurants and gift shops.  There is also a laser tag place, a butterfly exhibit, and a dolphin experience. The aquarium has lots of smaller tanks with fish, and bigger tanks with sharks and rescue tortoises (my favorite part.)  The best part of the aquarium is probably the living carousal, which rotates around so you can see the big tanks.  My 15 month old has little patience for this part, so if we do this one, I have to bribe her with lots of snacks (which you’re not supposed to bring in there.)

They have a play area for kids with a giant peg board, water table, and coloring area but she is a bit too little for this.  She still likes running around and looking at the other kids though.  There are also a couple places where you can touch the water creatures, but I’m pretty sure she would just try and grab them, so I haven’t done this yet either.

You can color fish/ sea creatures and project them

All in all, I would recommend Odysea Aquarium but would definitely invest in the annual pass. There’s really not too many indoor activities for little ones around here during the summer and we’ve been enjoying this one. I’m assuming at about 3 or 4, she would get a lot more out of the experience.

 

 

 

 

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Vegas Trip Roundup: Part One

The Ok Moms – Vegas Momcation

Hey everyone! I divided our Vegas Momcation into two parts…. so lets get into it…

Danielle & I traveled to Las Vegas for a girls getaway a few months ago for our first kid free vacation. The big question while planning was ‘what do you do in Vegas when you are mentally an 80 year old cat lady?’

THURSDAY

We both got in Thursday late afternoon. Danielle picked me up at the airport and we went straight to our hotel- The Paris, for check in. My brother-in-law hooked us up and let me just say… hands down this was the best view of any hotel I’ve ever stayed at.

We did a quick hair and makeup refresh and grabbed a cab to head to dinner. We chose Lotus of Siam for our first ‘eat with both hands’ celebratory meal. This place did not disappoint! Its slightly off the strip, but this was some of the best Thai food we have had. We spent a lot of time staring at the walls that are covered in pictures of famous diners.

Mario Batali!

If you aren’t super adventurous don’t despair- they have more tame items like fried rice and pad Thai on the menu.

Side Note: when going off strip beware of old people that steal your Uber due to confusion about how Uber actually works.

After dinner we grabbed some Starbucks and did some people watching before heading back to our room to watch Frasier and enjoy face masks that we picked up from CVS. We were definitely asleep by midnight. ROCK ON.

FRIDAY

We got up early on Friday morning and headed over to Hash House a Go-Go before the rush of hungover tourists descended on the place. They are known for their comically large proportions of breakfast foods… very Instagrammable.

We decided to split the bananas foster pancake and the sage fried chicken and waffles. The chicken was definitely our favorite, the best part was the crispy fennel straws… we couldn’t stop picking at them. I learned Dani doesn’t like maple syrup… this was very disappointing and I wasn’t sure if we could still be friends. Then she managed to get grease spots on her dress… so I forgave her.

We then hit the strip to shop for a grease-free dress for Danielle, and to burn our food calories off.

Mom Problem #1- No matter what, kids always score goodies before mom. We shopped all day and ended up with items for our kids.. go figure. Our favorite place was Kids Kastle in the forum shops (3500 Las Vegas BLVD) They had some of the cutest kids stuff ever, including mini designer inspired bags… Chanel, Celine…. so freaking cute.

Danielles ‘We are over this heat’ face

With a mild case of heatstroke (it was over 100 degrees the ENTIRE TIME we were there) we headed back to get ready for dinner at Mon Ami Gabi. We indulged in some steaks after our long day of walking… and their steak frites were AMAZE.

We had to scramble to make it from dinner to our show that night- Magic Mike Live at the Hardrock. Ladies…. this show was amazing. Not anything like you think it will be. I cannot recommend it enough… we had so much fun!

what I cannot recommend are the overpriced cocktails .. you can skip them…

A very expensive, very watered down drink at Magic Mike

After the show we met back up with the ladies and headed to Hakkasan to see Steve Aoki. It was fun… fun-ish….

I’ll be honest… our club days are over. We made friends with some dads and exchanged kid stories and pictures over loud EDM music… totally not what you are supposed to do at a club. If the staff knew we probably would have been forced to leave….

Stay tuned for Part 2 of our Vegas Trip Roundup!

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Things We Love: Basic Invite

This is a sponsored post, but all opinions are our own.  We only work with brands that we love (and we think you will love too!)

Ok everyone, we don’t gush about paper often but we have to say it….

We love Basic Invite! There’s a whole world of sites that seem to disappoint in some way, be it color schemes that don’t work for your party theme, ugly envelopes, dorky graphic design… We could go on forever. 

When we came across a site where everything was customizable, aesthetically pleasing, easy to navigate, and the kicker- offers sample print outs so you can actually use the product you will get, well… someone out there has been reading our minds. Don’t let the name fool you – Basic Invite is anything but basic!

Custom Colors

You can change the gold foil to rose gold!


The custom color tool is our absolute favorite thing about basic invite. And when they say custom color they really mean it; you can switch colors on every element of the card design. it’s so fun to feel like the card you are creating is one of a kind. They even have over 40 envelope color options to coordinate with your invite!

 

Making Your Life Easier

We are a bit lazy over here, so any tool that makes our lives easier is a win!  The envelope seals are peel and stick, because nobody wants to lick nasty envelopes shut.  They have a free address collection tool, so you can just share a link and easily compile all your addresses. 

Basic invite is also killing it on the baby front (attention all you preggos; put down the baby names book and the Oreos for a second here.)

 

Birth Announcements

Basic Invite has templates for everything, but we are especially crushing on the birth announcement designs right now – they are seriously so chic! They aren’t your typical ‘cutesy’ graphics; you can get down right sophisticated if you want. They have great templates for both girl birth announcements and baby boy birth announcement cards. Here are a couple of our faves:

 

Doubtful that a birth announcement will be in either of our immediate futures, but now you know where to head if you need one!  We will definitely be heading to Basic Invite to get our Christmas cards and birthday invites this year.

Nordstrom Anniversary Sale 2017

It’s the most magical time of year!!! CHRISTMAS! The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale.  If you have somehow missed this phenomenon in previous years, it’s when the Fall merchandise goes on sale the end of July! So not only do you get a preview of fall trends, but you get amazing deals on the upcoming season, not last season’s sad leftovers (aka the Half Yearly Sale.)

We both were able to shop the sale early access sale with our Nordstrom cards, but it opens up to the public tomorrow (7/21).  A lot of the stuff did sell out, but they do restock a good amount before the public sale.  There are also a lot of returns that happen, so make sure to bookmark anything you like so that you can keep checking back.

Here’s what we bought:

 

Kelsey also put together an awesome video on how to style the faux leather Spanx leggings she bought.

Favorite Treats & Sweets – Phoenix

Ruze Cake House

Even though I love to bake and even went to culinary school for it; I definitely have more of a salt/carb/cheese tooth than a sweet one.   I still love to go out to grab a little treat now and then though.

RBF on point.

I have been following Růže Cake House on Instagram for a couple years, back when the mother-daughter duo used to make beautiful cakes and macarons out of their home.  Now they’ve opened up an insanely gorgeous storefront in Scottsdale.

Růže Cake House is tucked away in Old Town Scottsdale. They sell boba teas, macarons, and other pastries daily. If you have an event coming up, they also do wedding and special occasion cakes.

Trying to destroy their plants.

My last visit, I stopped in and got a box of 10 macarons and a strawberry lemonade boba.  (Their earl grey and prickly pear ones are really good too!)  I brough most of them home to split with my husband, and our favorites were the cookie dough and birthday cake ones.

Photos by Rachel Fischer.

Other favorite spots for treats:

Tracey Dempsey Originals If you’ve eaten at restaurants like Citizen Public House, The Gladly, or Nook; than you have probably already tried some of Tracey’s delicious desserts.  She also has a little shop in Tempe where you can get pastries, cookies, and her famous bacon caramel corn

Sweet Republic Ice Cream. This is my absolute FAVORITE for ice cream.  The Almond Buttercrunch and the seasonal Sugar and Spice are the best!  Alton Brown also named their Toffee Banofee sundae in the show Best Thing I Ever Ate on the Food Network.

The Local Donut. There are so many good local places for donuts (Short Leash, Welcome Chicken + Donuts), but The Local Donut is my favorite.  Their donuts are categorized as traditional, fancy, or classy which is the cutest.

Ollie Vaughn’s I haven’t been here in some time, but I used to go here all the time when I lived in Phoenix.  My favorites were always their almond croissants and lemon bars.

 

 

Rosé Granita Recipe

Ok, Frosé!

Ugh, sorry, I already hate myself for saying that.  But as hard as I try not to be basic, I can’t help myself sometimes.  And let’s face it, rosé is the cool kid drink right now, and frosé (rosé granita, slushy, or snow cone – call it what you’d like) is the drink of summer. I rarely buy expensive bottles of wine, and this was no exception.  I used Ferard Bertrand Core des Roses because I had a sad bottle left from Gigi’s party, but any drier rosé would do.  I think this also might be pretty delicious with a sauvignon blanc/viognier/ any type of fruity dry white.  (Maybe I will need to do a little R&D taste-testing for you on this!)

Recipes with limited ingredients and pretty bottles are my favorite.

Plus it takes no time to make, requires no special ingredients or equipment, and you can make it ahead.  I think it’s totally impressive to serve at a dinner party, and besides the novelty of an adult snow cone, it tastes delicious!  You could tweak my recipe a little bit, but keep in mind that adding too much more alcohol will keep it from freezing.

Rosé Granita Recipe aka Rosé Slushy
When your friend comes over and you want to be fancy, but you only have cheddar bunnies to serve as a snack.

Rosé Granita Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups dry rosé
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • juice of half of a lemon
  • 1 Tbsp. pomegranate or cranberry juice for color (optional)
  1. Heat water, sugar, and juice until sugar dissolves, and let cool.
  2. Stir in rosé and pour into a 9×13′ Pyrex (or similar) pan.
  3. Freeze for 2 hours, then stir with a fork, and put back in freezer.
    1. Freeze for another 2 hours (or up to 3 days) and re-stir.
  4. Serve in chilled glasses. Add a rosé float if you’d like, but it will make your rosé granita part melt faster.

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Stupid Toys Roundup

Dumbest Toys of 2017

I’m just OK in the momming department so I always let my kids go down every toy isle at places like Target or Toys R Us. I already know I’m raising spoiled and entitled children…so theres really nothing to lose. Plus its fun to see what has changed in the world of toys and what has stayed the same. There are toys like Calico Critters, Barbie, And LOL Dolls where, if I’m being honest, I want to buy them all and play right alongside my children….

And then there are those toys that leave me super confused and scared for the future. These are the toys that have me making my ‘WTF’ face:

Mashems/Fashems:

Instantly deducted points for the super stupid name of these. Right out the gate and I already hate you. I have yet to figure out why there are two names for the same awful product. Its basically a rubbery little figure that should be about 25 cents at a vending machine inside a bowling alley. Someone had the genius idea that we haven’t been paying enough for absolute crap…. so they invented Fashems… or Mashems… whatever.

On the plus side they are super duper attractive:

Orbeez:

These are on the list of things I will never buy my children for many, many reasons. I watched a YouTuber play with these. Then I rolled my eyes when she said they were ‘fun’.

You soak these little gel capsules that look like they are from old lady bath sets… then you smash them into little particles to do crafts with. If theres anything moms really love, its products that create things your child will have to keep and cherish forever, and leave strange chemical messes all over your household surfaces. BRAVO Orbeez.

Side note: You can apparently also do this with Orbeez… cause why the hell not?

Easy Bake oven:

I’m sure  there are people out there that would rip me a new one for putting this on a worst toys list. they would probably say things like “Its an institution!” or “I love making food that doesn’t taste like its meant for human consumption!”. With all the advances in technology I cannot believe this is still manufactured. For some reason cooking things over a lightbulb makes me think of people making meth. I don’t actually know how meth is made… but easy bake oven sounds plausible.

“ruining cake was fun…ruining pizza will be even more fun!”-the people over at easy bake

I remember making a cake and after the first bite realizing how bad it was and that I had to choke it down so I wouldn’t have to admit to my mom she was right about my Easybake oven. Glad to see other kids will get to experience that memory.

Shopkins:

I’m confused. Do these have a goal? Besides the obvious one of separating parents from their money? Bottom line: they creep me out and remind me of something a Japanese businessman would get off on.

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Instant Pot – The Ultimate Lazy Mom Device

Instant Pot = GAME CHANGER.

Let me start out by saying, I am in no way affiliated with Instant Pot. But I say in all seriousness that Instant Pot has changed my life! I’ve never been much for kitchen gadgets, besides my Vitamix and stand mixer.  I purchased the Instant Pot during an Amazon Prime Day sale as an impulse buy.

My baby was still pretty new, and I didn’t have time to cook much.  We hadn’t got her sleep down yet and thought you had to hold her to get her to nap, and I was still nursing.  These 2 activities took up my entire day.  In the mornings my husband would make me what he referred to as a “mommy sandwich” (cheesy egg sandwich) before he went to work. Then at about 8 pm I would realize I was ravenously hungry and eat 2 or 3 Hagan Daaz ice cream bars.  I did this for weeks and wondered why I hadn’t lost any pregnancy weight.

When my Instant Pot and America’s Test Kitchen pressure cooker book arrived, my life dramatically improved.  You can make anything in minutes. A crockpot means you have to plan it out.  You also have to brown the meat or saute the onions in a separate pan, which means more dishes (no thank you!).  I’ve made tons of stuff like ribs, chicken thighs, pot roast, and pork shoulder, but the real saving grace when I had no time to cook was a whole chicken.

Instant Pot Chicken and Beans / Chicken and Brown Rice

All you do is throw a chicken, chicken stock, garlic, (onion, white wine/lemon/herbs etc. are all great but optional), and short grain brown rice in the pot and set it to 25 minutes. And that’s it. LIFE. CHANGING. Once it’s done, you can take the chicken out and set aside to rest and stir a couple cups of baby spinach or chopped kale into the brothy rice and now you even have a vegetable. If you wanted to get fancy, you could saute your onion and garlic first for a greater depth of flavor, but I find this step unnecessary here.  The point is to have something super quick and easy.

You can replace the brown rice with pre-soaked beans, which is just as delicious! (I just never remember to soak the beans ahead of time.)

I’ve done beans instead of rice, or roasted vegetables instead of greens stirred in, but I really can’t tell you how good it felt having a hot meal after weeks of eating crap. My one and only complaint is that I really like crispy chicken skin, and even if you brown the chicken really well first, it just ends up a little soggy and sad by the time you take it out.

My solution (and I know this is a total fatass thing to do) is to remove the skin. It should all come off pretty neatly in a little sheet with legs and cut it up into a few pieces, so that it bakes evenly. Place it on parchment or aluminum foil for about 20 minutes at 375 until it’s brown and crunchy. I like to put a liberal amount of salt and pepper on it first, and turn it over halfway through.  Then you have a delicious crunchy snack or you can set it back on your chicken pieces for a sort of deconstructed look.

Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 – 4 lb. chicken
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • medium onion, diced
  • 1 cup short or medium grain brown rice
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • Optional (juice and zest from 1 lemon or a couple glugs of white wine, fresh herbs, spinach or chopped kale)
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Stir rice, stock, garlic and onion together in pot. Season with salt and pepper. Place seasoned chicken on top.
  2. Close lid and set to 25 minutes.
  3. When timer goes off, quick release pressure.
  4. Remove chicken. If desired stir in spinach or chopped kale into rice mixture while set to “keep warm.” Stir until it wilts.