The Best of Me FREE Screening. {Minneapolis.}

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Nicholas Sparks fans will be excited for his newest book turned movie, The Best of Me. It opens in theaters nationwide October 17, 2014 but Minneapolis/St. Paul fans can get an early glimpse by downloading free passes to the screening for Wednesday, October 1 at 7 p.m. at the Showplace ICON theatre in St. Louis Park.

To download your free passes, Go to https://relativityscreenings.com/index.php/redeem and enter the code BESTOFMEMSP  (while supplies last). Please keep in mind that seating will be on a first come, first served basis so it is recommended to arrive early.

The Best of Me:

The story of Dawson and Amanda, two former high school sweethearts who find themselves reunited after 20 years apart, when they return to their small town for the funeral of the beloved friend. Their bittersweet reunion reignites the love they’ve never forgotten, but soon they discover the forces that drove them apart twenty years ago live on, posing even more serious threats today. Spanning decades, this epic love story captures the enduring power of our first true love, and the wrenching choices we face when confronted with elusive second chances.

My Little Girls Shared Room.

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On Labor Day weekend while Miss F was playing down the hall we heard a crash and as I walked down the hall, I was shocked to see she had pulled her book shelf completely off the wall. It was a mess of drywall and chipped paint and books. Everywhere books.

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The book shelf before the big fall.

J wasn’t thrilled about the idea of re-mounting the already difficult book shelf, I wasn’t convinced that wall should remain empty and after thinking for a few minutes realized that maybe it was time to move Miss E in with Miss F so the sisters could share a bedroom.

The bedroom sharing for H and E has gone mostly fine, for the most part they went to bed at the same time and Miss E can sleep through a train wreck so would typically sleep far longer than H anyhow but with school starting and H having to be up and ready for a bus at 7:02 a.m. and E not needing to be to school until 8:55 a.m. it sure makes sense for them to be in different rooms.

So we resurrected the old toddler bed {and yes, Miss E fits just fine}, rearranged a few things and put those two little girls together.

It’s been so much fun.

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It’s currently a hodge podge mixture of ABC’s and owls but for now it works. We’ll likely keep the room yellow forever or as long as we live her but I’m sure once Miss F grows out of the crib we’ll be upgrading the sleeping situation.

There’s just something about my little girls sharing a room I’m extra excited about. I love that THEY love it and look forward to them building many, many memories in their little yellow room.

Star Wars REBELS: Spark of Rebellion FREE SCREENING {Minneapolis}

You’re invited to attend a one-time-only event screening of STAR WARS REBELS: SPARK OF REBELLION on the big screen before it debuts on Disney Channel on October 3rd! Screening will take place on Saturday, September 27 at 10:45am at Showplace ICON in St. Louis Park, MN. Up to 4 passes can be downloaded RIGHT HERE while supplies last!

Please join in for some family fun with activities beginning at approximately 9:30AM before the screening begins at 10:45AM. Possible activities to include, but not limited to: photo-ops with STAR WARS characters from the 501st; coloring / crafts area; face painting & balloon artists; STAR WARS costume contests; enter-to-win for prizes; and more!

#StarWarsRebels Spark of Rebellion on Disney Channel on October 3rd (9PM ET/PT). Series premieres October 13th (9PM ET/PT) on Disney XD.starwars

Are you and your kids Star Wars Fans?

 

Baby Depot at Burlington.

Baby gear and everything baby can be expensive. But it doesn’t have to be.

Burlington now offers Baby Depot. All the great products, brands and labels you love in one place and at a good price point.

From strollers and high chairs to onesies, the selection is massive and includes each and every possible baby item you might be looking for.

Including baby shoes:

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Loveys:
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You name it, they have it.

Do you shop at Burlington? Have you visited Baby Depot?

Disclosure: Baby Depot at Burlington sent me a promotional gift in exchange for this post. All words and opinions are mine.

 

 

Red Gold’s 2-A-Day Crock Pot Giveaway!

Here starts the fourth week of school and for many of us, a better attempt at dinner. I don’t know about you but planning ahead is my biggest issue. If I think about it and plan it, dinner time is awesome. If I wait until 1 p.m. that day and it dawns on me that we have no dinner plans, dinner time is a stressful chaotic mess of throwing together random things to make a meal.

Even with the best planning though there are times I feel stuck in a rut and need some new menu options to add to the table.

Last week we tried Slow Cooker Spicy Macaroni & Cheese {thanks to Red Gold Tomatoes}

It was a hit {even if we had to keep the spicy tomatoes out of it for some of our eaters.}
Really, any crockpot meal is a hit for me. I love the idea of throwing it together and not having to worry about it for a few hours which works well when we are jaunting off to school pick up and tennis matches and football games after school.
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Red Gold Tomatoes is giving away TWO Crock Pots a day now through October 8 and you can enter to win one on their Facebook page. You can also find some fun, new slow cooker recipes.

Here’s the Slow Cooker Spicy Mac and Cheese recipe
Here’s what you need:

2 cups pasta of choice, uncooked

3 tablespoons butter

8 ounces processed cheese cubed

1 teaspon Dijon mustard

1 cup low fat milk

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

1 12 ounce can evaporated milk

1 14.5 ounce can Red Gold Petite Diced Tomatoes with Green Chiles

Directions:

1. Spray crock pot with cooking spray {the sides too! not just the bottom!}

2. Place uncooked pasta in the bottom of the crock pot.

3. Add all the remaining ingredients EXCEPT the tomatoes.

4. Cook on low for four hours.

5. Just before serving add the Red Gold Tomatoes and stir to combine.

Enjoy!

What’s your favorite slow cooker recipe?

18 Things to Do in the Twin Cities This Fall

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1. Pick apples at Afton Apple Orchard. {Hastings}

With so many varieties of apples, this is the destination if you are looking for a pick your own. Open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. they have festivals and lots of additional fall attractions on the weekends. {Local blogger Dining with Alice just did a great review of everything they have to offer.}

2. Ride the cow train at Apple Jacks Orchard. {Delano}
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If you live out in the Western or Northwestern suburbs it’s likely you’ve been {or your kids have been} to Apple Jacks a time or twenty but it is still a classic apple orchard and family fun day. From riding the cow train to jumping in the hay or on the giant pillow. The hayride is the same each year but you’ll do it every year just because of the driver/narrator.

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Apple Jacks Orchard Fall 2013

3. Jump in the corn at 101 Market. {Otsego}

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101 Market Fall 2012

What I love most about 101 Market is that you can make it as much or as little as you’d like whether that’s an after school trip to jump in the corn or the pumpkin bouncer or if it’s an all day Saturday adventure. They have duck races, pedal cart races, a maze, a petting zoo and jumping pillow. {They are also on Groupon right now!}

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101 Market Fall 2012

4. Take a hayride through Minnetonka Orchard. {Minnetonka}

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One of those orchards you can do anything at. From sharing a meal to kids playing, hayrides, picking pumpkins and more. You can make it a day and they are open daily from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

5. Buy a Minnesota grown mum at the Minneapolis Farmers Market.

If you’ve never been to the Minneapolis Farmers Market, you are missing out! Runs each Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and is the best place to buy your fresh, locally grown produce, flowers and even plants.

6. Eat and drink all things pumpkin.

Pumpkin Spice lattes, Pumpkin flavored beer, pumpkin bread, cookies and even pie. ‘Tis the pumpkin season.

7. Speaking of pumpkins, pick your pumpkins at Eveland Family Farm. {Andover}

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We visited this gem of a farm for the first time last year and we loved it. Open daily September 20-Halloween, it’s the perfect place to pick out pumpkins. A miniature maze, hayride and animals make this working farm a really unique fall attraction.

8. Go get lost in the maze at Severs Corn Maze. {Shakopee}

 It’s the 18th year for the infamous Severs Corn Maze and Fall Festival. The event grows larger every year and for many Twin Cities families THIS is their fall tradition. Tickets start at $13/person over the age of 4 and they are open Friday-Sunday through October.

9. Have a bonfire.

10. Go to a Gopher game.

11. Take family pictures.

With the holidays approaching, there really is no better time to take family pics than now. Find a photographer or call up old aunt Susie and get something on the books. You will want to remember this.

12. Get scared at Valley Scare. {Shakopee}

Whether you are looking for Halloween fun or something truly spooky, ValleyFair has it this October. Planet Spooky is daytime, family fun that is not scary and tickets start around $30/person. The Halloween Haunt begins after dark and you will leave terrified. Tickets start at $31.99/person.

13. Take in a local High School football game.

Cheer on the home team and support your local schools enjoying popcorn from a box and cold bleacher seats. It will bring back high school memories like no other and is more than worth the couple dollar admission.

14. Drink a stein full of beer at Oktoberfest.

The first weekend of October the Minnesota State Fairgrounds will be transformed to a German Oktoberfest with music, dancing, lots of German food and of course, beer. Ages 21+ are $25 and tickets include a beer stein and a beer coupon. {Check Groupon for a half off deal!} Ages 12-20 are $5 and kids under age 12 are free. Hours: October 3 4 p.m.-11 p.m and October 4 12 p.m. – 11 p.m.

15. Take a scenic Fall Colors drive through Red Wing.

16. Don’t want to use up a tank of gas? Take a look at the fall colors at the Arboretum in Chaska.

For $12/adult {kids are FREE!} you can enjoy 1000+ acres of beauty. In the fall there is also a not to miss Apple House full of all of the University of Minnesota varieties. {There’s also a BOGO deal on LivingSocial right now! Check out the review local blogger MinneMama Adventures wrote about the different activities.}

17. Have a carmel apple sundae and take in some live music at Deer Lake Orchard. {Buffalo}

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Deer Lake Orchard Fall 2011

I’ve had a lot of carmel apple sundaes in my time but hands down my favorite, Deer Lake. Family owned and operated with a full petting zoo, a fabulous gift shop and plenty of apples, this is an orchard not to be missed.

18. Try a new orchard, maybe one that’s lesser known, or maybe one that’s real popular that you’ve never visited. Minnesota is the goldmine of orchards and fall festivals and harvest, make it count by exploring.

 What’s on your fall checklist?

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25% off at Tea Collection!

I’ve said lots of times before that I LOVE Tea Collection. They are high quality, unique kids clothes that wash up great. For the last few winters it has become a winter staple in Miss E’s closet because I love the cotton dresses and leggings that are good for school, play and even dressier times.

I also love that their clothes are colorful, perfect for family photos! Hint, Hint.

Through Thursday, all of their Fall Faves are 25% off which is a great deal if you are in need of stocking up on some kid’s clothes to get through the winter.

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Ready to do some shopping? Use FALLFAVS at checkout for 25% off.

What items are you eyeing?

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post and affiliate links were used.

Child Passenger Safety Week! $100 Amazon Giftcard GIVEAWAY!

Did you know that motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death for children age 1 to 13 in the USA? The fatality rate could be reduced by about half if the correct child safety seat were always used.

#TheRightSeat

Bloggin’ Mamas is supporting the Ad Council and The Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) by sharing the word about Child Passenger Safety Week this week (September 14-20).

One of the goals of Child Passenger Safety Week is to encourage parents and caregivers to visit SaferCar.gov/TheRightSeat

Safety seats, if used correctly, dramatically reduce the risk of fatality or injury to children. However, research shows that three out of every four car seats are not used correctly, meaning the child is not in the correct car seat for their age, height and weight, or the car seat is not installed correctly. In 2012, over one third (37%) of children killed in car crashes were not in car seats or wearing seat belts.

Resources

o Installation Resources: If a car seat is not installed correctly, your child’s safety could be in danger. Every car seat has different installation instructions. You can find resources and tips here to help you get “the right fit” on your car seats: http://www.safercar.gov/parents/RightFit.htm

o Free Car Seat Checks: During Child Passenger Safety Week, there will be more than 600 events in 45 states across the country, where certified child passenger safety technicians will inspect car seats and show parents and caregivers how to correctly install and use them. In most cases, this service is free of charge. Locate a car seat check event here: http://www.safercar.gov/cpsApp/cps/index.htm?

Car Seat Safety Tips:

  • Find a car seat that fits your child. As children grow, how they sit in your car will change. Make sure the car seat you purchase is designed to fit your child’s current size and age.
  • Not all car seats fit in all vehicles so test the car seat you plan to buy to make sure it fits well in your vehicle.
  • Before putting your child in a car seat, read the manufacturer’s instructions so you know how your car seat works.
  • All-in-One car seats offer you the advantage of using the same seat for the following positions: rear-facing, forward-facing with harness, then booster. These seats typically have higher height and weight limits for the rear-facing position, allowing you to keep your child rear-facing for a longer period of time.
  • Remember, the best car seat is the one that fits your child properly, is easy to use, and fits in your vehicle correctly. The information here can help you choose the right seat for your child. Keep in mind that:

o Your child under age 1 should always ride in a rear-facing car seat.

o Children ages 1-3 should be kept rear-facing as long as possible.

o Keep your child in the back seat at least through age 12.

Be certain you’ve installed your car seat correctly by having it checked at an inspection station or by a certified child passenger safety technician. Bring the Car Seat Instructions AND the Vehicle Owner’s Manual with you to a seat check appointment!

Check out this Infograph to help you check if you have #TheRightSeat and join @NHTSAgov on 9/17/14 from 3p-4p EST for a Twitter Chat where you can ask questions you might have about your car seat.

Free blogger signup

And to make sure you have #TheRightSeat, Bloggin’ Mamas is giving away a $100 Amazon giftcard so you can buy one!

Giveaway begins September 17th, 2014 at 12:01 am and ends October 1st, 2014 at 11:59 pm EST. Open to US residents age 18 and older. Winner will be selected by Random.org and be notified by email. See Rafflecopter widget below for full terms & conditions.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I am sharing this post on behalf of Bloggin’ Mamas. I was not compensated for this post and am not responsible for prize fulfillment. For questions concerning prize fulfillment, please contact Bloggin’ Mamas directly.

Honey Maid Does it Again! #NotBroken

Today is National Stepfamily Day and Honey Maid has done it again! They have launched their newest ad and I am a fan.

I have written many, many things over the years about being a stepmom. From the beginning when insecurities loomed and life was hard. We were figuring it out. One day at a time. In some ways, though it is good, we still are figuring it out. In the words of the infamous Momastery, we can do hard things, we do every day.

I shared more of my story today on Star Tribune.

In recognition of celebrating blended families everywhere, I’m pretty sure you too will love and appreciate this ad.

Did you know:
1 in 3 weddings in the US results in a stepfamily?
1300 new stepfamilies are formed EVERY DAY?
40% of Americans have at least one step family member?
Blended families are the fastest growing family group but slowest growing church ministry?

Please watch and share the ad using #NotBroken and #ThisisWholesome

{Comments here are closed but you can join the conversation on Facebook or on the Star Tribune today.}

Creative Kidstuff Grows with Goodness

We love Creative Kidstuff! It’s been a favorite store of ours since my oldest (now 12) was young. They have an amazing assortment of educational games, books & toys. Earlier this summer, my girls and I stopped in to the Linden Hills location on a day of fun as part of our Summer Bucket List. Did you know that Linden Hills is actually the first Creative Kidstuff retail location & has been open since 1982? So when Samara asked if I’d like to go to their Grow with Goodness Event at the St. Paul location on her behalf, my youngest (age 8) and I were excited.
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Grow with Goodness is Creative Kidstuff’s current showcase of in-store items they sell that support the idea of the farm to table initiative. It was an adorable display just inside the front doors so you & your kids will definitely be drawn to it upon entering! From corn shaped pens to recipe books, it really does a nice job of highlighting what farm to table is and how kids can be a part of this movement. They even have kits available where you can grow your own carrots, onions & radishes!
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I also learned that Creative Kidstuff has an ongoing charitable commitment called Buy a Toy, Give a Toy. As described on their website:

Creative Kidstuff, in partnership with Sensational Beginnings, GreaterGood and Soles4Souls facilitates the donation and distribution of product surplus to children worldwide who otherwise would not be able to enjoy high quality toys and benefit from the power of play. Every purchase made at Creative Kidstuff contributes to this initiative through the Buy a Toy, Give a Toy program.

During the months of August-September they have another amazing opportunity to give back. Donations are being collected and will be used to purchase chickens, supplies, as well as provide the training for raising the chickens, to a remote Haitian village where the food supply is dangerously scarce.

Also present at the Grow with Goodness Event was Mama’s Happy, a boutique that offers upcycled and vintage merchandise. They currently have 3 locations (St. Paul, St. Louis Park and Independence). A display of various fall decorations had been created from items found only in thrift shops and were great ideas for how you and your kids can make beautiful decorations for the home. Pretty sure that even this uncrafty mom could even handle some of the projects we saw and I loved the tip about looking in thrift shops for craft supplies!
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And how can you really talk about farm to table unless food is involved?! Lakewinds Food Co-op in Richfield provided delicious treats for the evening. Crudité with vegetable, hummus or spinach dip for those craving a healthier bite and pumpkin bread along with the most amazing coconut confections with or without dark chocolate (um, with please!) definitely found a spot on my little ones plate! Lakewinds is committed to offering natural and organic foods, locally sourced whenever possible, to their members. You can find them in Richfield, Chanhassen and Minnetonka.