Twin Cities Experience Gift Guide 2015

I am all about experience gifts for Christmas. I just, as I’ve said a few dozen times before, don’t think kids need a lot of toys and hate the idea of buying something that gets tossed aside a week after Christmas and never played with again. That’s why we really try to focus on opportunities for experiences. Things like tickets to concerts and sporting events, memberships to museums or passes to the zoo, even the theater. I would much rather skimp on “stuff” so my kids can have experiences like travel and culture and theatre.

I’ve compiled a few of my favorite Christmas experience gifts for 2015 below, feel free to share your own ideas in the comments and I will try to add to this post.

For the kids: 

Minnesota Children’s Museum


With TWO Twin Cities locations {St. Paul and MOA} it’s really the best kind of gift for families. Use my code: 141019053 online or in person at the museum to receive $15 off of a membership that is good through May 2017 at BOTH locations. Discount expires 1/15/16 and is NOW available.

Minnesota Children’s Theatre


You know how much I LOVE being able to take my kids to the children’s theater well here’s your chance to make it a family affair. Get four tickets to a 2016 show for $100. Upcoming shows include: The Frog Bride, Snowy Day & other Ezra Jack Keats stories, Animal Dance and Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Purchase by 12/12/15 and you’ll have the vouchers by Christmas. Now available.

Twin Cities Kids Club


Pay one rate and receive discounts all year long? Sign me up! Twin Cities Kids Club has discounts literally ALL over the metro area fro BOGO at Airmaxx to BOGO Pump it Up to BOGO Play & Learn Cafe and more. For $49.95 {plus tax} you can get a membership good for an entire year. Not only is this is a good option for YOU but think gifts too. Now available.

For the adults:

Pub Pass

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Have someone in your life who likes beer? Buy a Pub Pass. Good for a free pint of beer at 25 different pubs in the Twin Cities you can’t beat the $25 price. Bonus: For orders placed between now and Black Friday if you buy four you get one free. Five Pub Passes for $100. Now available.

Lela Restaurant/Sheraton Bloomington


Purchase a Lela gift card valued at $100 or more and receive a complimentary one night stay at Sheraton Bloomington Hotel in 2016. The stay is valid for a one night stay Thursday- Sunday through 2016 based on hotel availability. This is a great deal. Not only is Lela a FANTASTIC new restaurant in the Twin Cities but the hotel has been newly renovated and what parents AREN’T looking for a night away. Can’t beat this one. It’s not available online so make plans to stop in to pick this one up. Available starting 11/27 through 12/26/15.


Do you like giving these kind of gifts? What sorts of experience gifts do you like to give? 

Top of Moms List: Meet LuLaRoe

Leggings are all the rage this year and I’m no exception. I love the simplicity of throwing on leggings and a sweater and boots and going about my day.

My friend, Johanna, just recently became a LuLaRoe consultant and invited me to come and try out the fun women’s clothing.

One look at the bright, colorful rack of leggings and dresses and tops and I was sold.

What is LuLaRoe?

LuLaRoe was started by a woman in California named DeAnne Stidham and is named after her three grandchildren, Lucy, Lola and Monroe. She created a clothing line that is sold via pop up boutiques. The clothing line is modest, affordable and stylish and is sold by women nationwide who can create their own flexible schedules and support themselves and their families. {Side note: DeAnne was a single mother of SEVEN when she launched her business! Mercy!}


How do I purchase LuLaRoe?

Well if you’re local, my friend Johanna has launched her business and is hosting pop up boutiques like nobody’s business. You can join her Facebook group here to be alerted to online exclusives and any upcoming public boutiques. You can also host your own show and earn free clothes!

What’s this One Size business?

It’s true, the leggings are ONE SIZE and believe you me, I was a skeptic but I slipped those leggings on and you guys! They are the most comfortable, soft leggings I have EVER worn. The one size fit is meant for size 0-12 and then there is tall & curvy for sizes 14-24. The waist band is a yoga waist band making for a very comfy feel and NO muffin top.


How much are we talking?

Leggings are in the mid $20 range and tops are around $30. The dresses and skirts, oh the dresses, are a little higher but the quality, the colors, the fit. Totally worth it. The clothes are by no means “cheap” but they are also not cheaply made either.


Can you request certain patterns?

One of the really neat things about LuLaRoe is that the patterns and fabrics are unique so while there might be a line of leggings that comes out in a certain fabric, there’s only so many made and then they’re gone and your consultant doesn’t get to request certain fabrics, just sizes and pieces {such as tops, dresses, leggings}


Ok, so what have you tried out so far?

First, LuLaRoe’s popular leggings:



I also tried the Randy tee.


I seriously got SO many compliments when I wore this shirt. Not only was it comfortable and well fitting but the floral pattern was just plain fun.

Want to learn more? Want to add some of these to your wardrobe?

You have two opportunities to learn more: Join her Facebook page here OR visit Johanna on Small Business Saturday {11/28} at Jimmy’s in Vadnais Heights.


Here’s your chance to try LuLaRoe– you can enter the Rafflecopter giveaway to win one pair of leggings right here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Four Shops to Prepare our Hearts/Minds/Homes for Christmas

Advent is approaching and I always find that I really need to prepare my heart, my mind, my home. It is SO easy to jump in the to-do’s. Going here and there and everywhere and checking things off the list but let’s live this season with intention. Here are four shops that I know will help you {and I} do just that.


ThreeLetterBirds: You know how much I love my friend Jenny’s sweet shop but I love her story even more. A mom and artist who decided to pursue her business. I will always cheer for her. I have many things in my home made by her including my favorite lyrics hanging in my little girls shared room.

My faves from her new holiday collection:

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I love the new mugs and the LISTS. I am a list lover so these beauties are right up my alley.


Johnson Made: I’ve long been a big fan of Sarah’s work, she created the prints that hung in H & E’s shared bedroom several years back and her advent calendar is one that I just love. It is simple, it is practical and it is Biblical.


Also? beautiful.

{Save 20% at Johnson Made with code: FBSAVE20}


Naptime Diaries: If you’ve not heard of this sweet shop out of Charleston, SC you are MISSING out. {I also love catching Jess on Periscope.} I absolutely love the theme of this year’s advent devotional: Make Room. It’s simple and intentional and so needed in this busy, convoluted world. All orders placed by Friday will arrive by December 1. {I’m also pretty smitten with her other devotionals, too.}


{Save 15% at Naptime Diaries with my link.}

Appleberry’s Attic: I continue to be amazed by Jen’s talent and her ability to get. things. done. Her annual Christmas craft night is approaching with over 300 tickets SOLD already. She’s another one who’s got words all over my home and as I unpack our Christmas boxes {why, yes, our tree is up and everything} I love finding the painted wood signs she’s made. Check her out, send her a Facebook message to order or plan to attend her next craft night. OR if you’re local come to the Dunn Bros Ladies Night on December 2 and pick up one of her signs.


The Wizard of Oz at Children’s Theatre Company

The Wizard of Oz is now open at Children’s Theatre Company and I promise this is one production you don’t want to miss.

Miss M and I attended Opening Night and oh, the energy, the vibrance, the story and stage came right to life.


CTC Acting Company member Traci Allen Shannon plays a remarkable and believable Dorothy. Other Acting Company members include Gerald Drake {Prof Marvel/The Wizard}, Dean Holt {Hunk/Scarecrow} and Reed Sigmund {Zeke/Cowardly Lion}.

The beloved story will impress attendees of all ages from the choreography, the most memorable songs of all time and the special effects, the show is well done in every aspect.


Other character of note, Mary Fox who played Miss Almira Gulch/Wicked Witch. She was amazing and so full of energy, cackles and all. I’ve never seen this actress in a CTC production but was impressed by her character from the first glimpse on stage.


The entire cast of munchkins, flying monkeys and members of OZ do a fascinating job at keeping the audience engaged and make the story feel alive.


I brought Miss M with me to opening night and will be going again Wednesday with Miss E. I’m already excited to see it again through her eyes.

Children’s Theatre Company says the show is for all ages and I would agree, though I don’t know how well my 2 year old would have sat. The production is 2 hours with one 15 minute intermission.

The popular, beloved Patrick’s cookies are on sale during intermission for $2/each in addition to other snacks and drinks. Buy before the show and save time, they’ll have your items waiting for you when you come out.

Tickets are still available, but I’m certain this will be a sold out production, so don’t delay. The Wizard of Oz runs through January 10, 2016.


Disclosure: I received complimentary press tickets to opening night in exchange for my honest review. All words and opinions are mine. Photos are used with permission from CTC.

Chicken Tortilla Soup {Favorite Recipe}

As the weather cools off and it gets dark earlier, one of the dinners my family really enjoys this time of year is Chicken Tortilla Soup. I’ve never been the biggest soup fan in the world but my kids love soup and this is actually thick enough to be more like a chili.

It’s super simple and can be made in your crockpot so by popular request {ok, one friend asked} here’s the recipe:

Chicken Tortilla Soup {adapted from Campbell’s}

2 cans cream of chicken soup
2 cans fiesta nacho cheese soup
1 can diced green chiles
6 cups of milk {you can add more if you want your soup to be soup-ier but I like mine to be a little thicker}
1 pound chicken breast shredded {not pictured}
tortilla chips {not pictured}


If I’m going to use chicken in another dish, I typically cook it in a crock pot with chicken stock and then shred it ahead of time.

Ready for the simplest instructions ever?

Combine soup, milk, chiles and chicken in crock pot and cook for 4-6 hours.

Serve with tortilla chips. {I usually crumble mine in to my soup for a little crunch!}



This recipe serves my family of seven and allows for lunchbox leftovers. So you could cut in half for a smaller family.

Helping the Twin Cities Homeless: Evie’s Bags 2015

This is an adapted post from 2014.

I saw him from across the street and I knew. I knew my little girl, with her bleeding heart for others, would stop and want to help him. Wind blowing, the crisp air biting our cheeks, we rushed across the street, me carrying Miss F, our friends just ahead of us and Miss E starts reading, “Home lllllesss….”

“and hunnnnn gry. Mom, he is homeless and hungry. We need to help him.” She stopped right smack on the corner of Michigan Avenue and Delaware in downtown Chicago. Her feet are glued to the ground, she will not budge until we do something, anything to help this man who’s sitting on the sidewalk, blankets and trash all around him.

I dig my hand in my coat pocket and grab a handful of change and hand it to her and she bends down, sticks it in the mans plastic cup and while dozens of people are walking every which direction around us, she makes eye contact with him as he says, “Thank you.”


She tells him you’re welcome and we are on our way and I am ever aware that she is on the lookout for more souls she can help. She looks back at him as we turn the corner and says, “I’m so sad he is homeless.”

Hours later we are en route home, a seven hour drive ahead of us, I tell her I am proud that she stopped and helped that man.

“Oh mom, it’s what I do,” she says. “I help people.” And she grins a solid grin that she does so well and says, “Don’t forget we need to make some bags for people.”

Yes, yes. I say and nod.


With the Holiday season approaching the requests of your time, money, resources are plenty. I am not under any illusion of otherwise. But once again this year we’ve decided that Miss E, our almost 7 year old, is on to something. She gets it.

Her heart, you guys. Her heart for others, for homeless, for hungry, for those out in the cold. She doesn’t understand why it is that some people have homes and others don’t. She doesn’t understand why some people are so hungry and all she wants to do is make it better.

So this month, we’ll be packing up bags. As many as we can pack and we’ll be handing them out all month {hopefully winter} long.

1. Make your own bags and hand them out to those who need them. This doesn’t have to be just a Minnesota thing because there are homeless and hungry people everywhere. Now if you live far, far out in the suburbs, the idea of finding people to give these bags to might seem challenging. Call your local food shelf or drive in to your local big city.

2. As you put together the bags, keep it simple. A former homeless man I know said to avoid personal care items but include things like a snack and water and gloves. The Dollar Tree often has things like hand warmers that would be a great addition. I’m guessing we all have extra Halloween candy laying around that would be a good addition.

3. Include a personal note {no last names}. Evie’s note of choice:

4. Pass out your bags, take a picture and a tally and shoot me an email at samarapostuma at gmail dot com so we can keep track. If you post pictures on social media use #Eviesbags

5. Share this post. Invite your friends, coworkers, neighbors to take part to create some bags together.

The thing that strikes me the most when it comes to Evie and the way she wants to help is the way that she truly sees people. She is unafraid, she is not awkwardly looking away as some of us adults do, she is not uncomfortable. Her act of helping those who need help is her way of saying, “I see you and you are loved and may this little bit I have to offer, help you.”

So will you see those who need help this season, will you remind them that they are loved and will you offer whatever little bit you have to offer to help? If my little Evie can do it, I think we all can.

Thanks for joining us in brightening the lives of those homeless and on the streets this winter.


Related Post: Her Heart

My 8th Stitch Fix

My 8th Stitch Fix arrived Monday afternoon and I was excited. What is it about the changing seasons that makes it feel like we have nothing to wear? I know I’ve no shortage of clothing options but I was ready for something new.

Before I give a play by play of this month’s fix, I’ll say I was initially disappointed. I started a Pinterest board this time with some style ideas and updated my notes to my stylist just before it shipped. While my note to the stylist originally asked for holiday apparel and denim, I did update that prior to shipment to a link to my Pinterest board and some specifications on everyday clothes, specifically tunics to go with leggings. I’m thinking my stylist didn’t see the update {even though Stitch Fix asked me to update my note before ship} and had already chosen my items before that.

Here’s what I got:



Pixley Talisa Dress $68


Cute dress but a little too snug and really no need for another solid navy dress in my closet.

Decision: RETURN

Gilli Taneli Dress $68


This was a super cute t-shirt material dress and if I didn’t already have one in black from Old Navy for {less than $20} I might have wanted to keep this one. The price point for a t-shirt material dress and the fact I have one similar made the decision easy.

Decision: RETURN

41Hawthorn Potina Draped Cardigan $68


Oh now this one is speaking my language. I heart cardigans and I heart stripes.


Skies are Blue Burgoyne Lace Hem Blouse $58fix8b

It’s hard to tell from the photos but this is super cute and simple black silk top with a lace hem. It’d be perfect with a long necklace and jeans for a dinner out.

Decision: KEEP

Just Black Jimmy Skinny Jean $88

I like these but don’t love them.

Decision: RETURN

What do you think?


My First Stitch Fix
My Second Stitch Fix
My Third Stitch Fix
My Fourth Stitch Fix

My 5th Stitch Fix
My 6th Stitch Fix

My 7th Stitch Fix

Have you tried Stitch Fix out yet? What have you liked or not liked? If you haven’t signed up yet what are you waiting for?

For a $20 styling fee, you fill out a questionnaire and all of your likes/dislikes when it comes to clothing, style, price points etc and a stylist puts together five pieces they think you might like. Hate it all? The only cost is the style fee. Love it?  Your $20 style fee goes towards your purchase and if you buy all five items you receive a 25% discount.

If you sign up and use my link I receive referral credit {it costs you nothing more or less by using my link, I’m just disclosing that I will receive credit}.

Six Things You Don’t Want to Miss

It’s sometimes challenging to find things you want to do when you’ve got the time, so allow me to help you.

I present–> Six Things You Don’t Want to Miss

  • Just Between Friends Eden Prairie kicks off Friday {10/23}. It’s that time of year, it’s getting colder, your kids legs grew three inches since last winter, time to go stock up on some high quality, brand named kids clothes at their consignment sale. Everything is inspected prior to the sale and you can really score some good deals. IF YOU GO–> Sale starts Friday at 10 a.m. and entry costs $2. Sale entry is FREE on Saturday and Sunday.


  • Have you been to the new Hyvee stores in Minnesota yet? LOOOOVE! This Saturday {10/24} both the Oakdale and New Hope locations are offering a fun, family Trick or Treat event from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. The first 100 kids in costume at each location will receive a glow in the dark trick or treat bag. Lots of fun activities planned and hey? isn’t it always a bonus to have the kids wear their costume a few times?



  • Hockey fans in your house? Don’t miss The Mighty Ducks playing on the big screen at Target Field Station Saturday starting at 3 p.m. The timing couldn’t be better, our own Minnesota Wild take on the Anaheim Ducks that same day. IF YOU GO–> Be sure and check out this map of all of the places around town that the Mighty Ducks was filmed. Make it an adventure.


  • It’s no secret that I have a special affection for Deer Lake Orchard in Buffalo. This weekend they’re presenting their own Haunted Hayride and you really can’t beat their $5 ticket prices and they also serve their very own hard cider.



Like events like this? Follow me on RedCurrent and you can stay up to date on lots of events like this for families and kids. I’ll be updating weekly and if you know of something cool I don’t have, let me know. {Full disclosure: Yes, I used to work there. No, I don’t anymore. I am currently one of their “experts” and am focusing on events for kids and families in the Twin Cities.}


Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins {Favorite Recipe}

While everyone else returned back to school today after MEA break, Miss E got to enjoy one last day off. So we made the most of it by spending the morning at the coffee shop, playing school {Yes, school!} and baking.

While everyone in our house loves pumpkin bread and muffins sometimes I just don’t feel like all the fuss. No, the recipe isn’t complicated but it’s a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Just a stitch more putzy.

Our banana chocolate chip recipe though is super simple. Not too many ingredients and something we often bake when we have leftover bananas sitting around.

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins {adapted from Rachael Ray}



1 1/2 c flour {we use Whole Wheat Unbleached}

1/2 c sugar

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

2 eggs

3-4 bananas

1/4 c vegetable oil

1/2-1 c chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. Add oil, banana and eggs. Stir in chocolate chips but don’t over mix. Pour into muffin tin. This makes 1 1/2 dozen medium to large muffins. Bake for 20-25 minutes.



Looking for a Haunting Experience this Fall? Check out Zywiec’s in Cottage Grove {Giveaway!}

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Let me just start by saying, I don’t like scary things. Spiders, zombies, blood and guts…eek. Not my thing. So when I got the invite to attend #MNBloggerBash at Zywiec’s I immediately asked if I could bring my husband.

Here’s what I thought would happen. We’d go, we’d say hi, maybe have some dinner, check it out and leave. Because like I said, scary things? Not my thing.

But oh man. It was FUN. SO fun. Probably the most fun Halloween thing we’ve done as adults in YEARS. Truly.


Owners Bill and Mitch Zwyiec have been doing the Haunting Experience for almost 20 years now and was something that started as a little fun. They originally just offered a haunted hayride that slowly expanded to a house and eventually expanded to include Big Zombie Hunter {paintball}. It takes a lot of people to put on their fall weekend events and activities, but the two love it.

We had the opportunity to walk through the haunted house with the lights ON first and I’m pretty sure that helped me walk through it with the lights OFF. Just knowing what to expect and knowing no one was really going to grab me or get me. They’re just actors!

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Once we walked through the TWO haunted houses we hopped aboard the haunted hayride.

Thirty {or so} people huddled up on the ride through the acres of corn fields. Oh, in the dark. Fun.

Finally, we got to try out Big Zombie Hunter. I’ve never shot anything aside from a Nerf gun but I loved shooting my 100 paintball rounds at various Zombies as we rode a paintball only hayride.

All in all, we had a fantastic time and J actually can’t wait to take a couple of the kids.

If you go:

  • I’d recommend older elementary and above for the haunted house. The hayride and Big Zombie Hunter isn’t as scary but the haunted house might be a little frightening for younger kids. We’d likely not take H or E to that part.
  • Zywiec’s is located in Cottage Grove off of Highway 61.
  • Tickets are available online and at the door. Tickets start at $18 for Haunting Experience and $13 for Big Zombie Hunter.
  • They also offer a “fast pass” so that you don’t have to wait in line. I think it might be worth it because it is a popular place!


  • Schedule of open dates

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  • Food {and beer} for sale on site.
  • For more info or to buy tickets visit their site:

I’m excited to be giving away a set of TWO tickets to Haunting Experience. {This includes the haunted houses and hayride. Big Zombie paintball would be an additional charge.}

You can enter the Rafflecopter giveaway right here.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I was invited to #MNBloggerBash and given complimentary admission to Haunting Experience. All words and opinions expressed are mine and I’m not being compensated for this post.