Minnesota State Fair Starts TOMORROW!

As hard as it is to believe, it’s already State Fair time around here. When I grew up we went to the Minnesota State Fair every year on Labor Day. We ate cheese curds, drank milk shakes, did the giant slide and walked. A ton.

As an adult, my fair attendance has been inconsistent. We took T and M one year when they were little {and we were crazy!} and ate and did rides and ate and pretty much walked until we dropped. A few years back just J and I went and is it horrible to admit that we kind of prefer it that way?

Yes, I’m certain our kids would love it but I feel like we take them to do and see and experience a lot of things, it’s kind of nice to make this an “adults” sort of thing.
Last week I was invited to a sneak peak at the State Fair. Myself and a few other local Minnesota bloggers were invited to try some of the newest foods and also see some of the newest parts of the State Fair.

I loved sampling some of the new foods.

My favorites: the Jello Salad ice cream from Izzy’s {of course}, the PB & J French Toast from Robbinsdale OES and the pizza tots from Green Mill. Seriously, so good. Other new additions- fried lobster on a stick from Lulu’s, lobster rolls from Cafe Caribe, pierogys from The Blue Barn and a Rustic stuffed scone from French Meadow Bakery.

We also were able to have a sneak peak of the new West End Market at the State Fair grounds. I’m pretty sure you’re going to want to check it out.

The Blue Barn and Lulu’s are the two anchor restaurants and both will promise good food, good drinks and a good time.


You also don’t want to miss the new Minnesota State Fair History Center.
So fun to get a peak at the history of the fair with lots of visuals, facts and a plethora of info. {Also, don’t tell anyone but the restrooms over there are pretty nice!}

All in all it was a pretty fun day and behind the scenes look at the State Fair and made me really excited to go this year.

Pictured below is the group of bloggers I attended with and their links.


Do you attend the Minnesota State Fair each year? With or without kids? What’s your favorite or must-do-see activities?

A special thanks to the Minnesota State Fair and Dining with Alice for inviting me and putting on such a nice event.

Tracks Headphones by SOL Republic GIVEAWAY

I don’t need to remind you that back to school time is upon us because the signs are EVERYWHERE. From stores to commercials to mailers to the emails and placement letters that continue to arrive every. single. day.

Do you have a middle school or high schooler who needs a little FUN added to their school supply shopping this fall? How about some Tracks headphones from SOL Republic?

Tracks are the signature headphones from SOL Republic providing superior sound and are on-ear headphones. These are perfect for a kid on the go.
From SOL Republic: Tracks on-ear headphones are the first customizable headphones to deliver incredible sound, style and technology. The 3-button mic + music control is compatible with most Apple and many other devices.

Interested in winning your own pair? Enter the giveaway here.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

To learn more about SOL Republic, more opportunities to win your own headphones or to buy some you can follow them on social media on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook or visit their website.
Please note that if you have previously won a SOL Republic giveaway within the last 6 months you are ineligible from entering/winning this giveaway. This giveaway is only good for US and Canada addresses.

Disclosure: This is a sponsored giveaway. All opinions expressed are mine.


On Grace and Flip-Flops.

Miss E and I went on a date this afternoon. I joke about my high on life, unicorn and rainbow dreaming girl and yet I know I need to be more like her. She is giving and grace filled and so very curious, yet she just gets things. We helped with the homeless ministry at church tonight and it was as though I could see the wheels in her head turning as she realized that the families there didn’t have a home to go home to and that she did. She is smart and sweet and yet can be sassy when she wants to be.

I snapped at her two days ago now about something so ridiculous. Flip-flops.

{First of all I want to know who decided to create flip flops for children because oh my word, what a mess. All of the walking and the toe confusion and the shoes falling off business kind of makes me crazy.}

I snapped at her because I can NOT stand when she wears those shoes and the drama that ensues but really I snapped at her because inside I was exhausted and overwhelmed about life behind me and before me in that moment. {Last week had been quite the week round here.}

For two days I walked around feeling bad about it, knowing it was wrong, knowing it was more about me than about her and her footwear choice and so today, this afternoon, we went on a school shopping and Starbucks date and I apologized for being such a jerk of a mom the other day.

I’m fairly certain she couldn’t even remember or chose not to remember what I was even talking about. I am no perfect mother, I say it all the time. I choose the wrong battles and other days forget to follow through, I’ve snapped and said the wrong things at the wrong time too many times to count but the reality is that in the end, she chooses to overlook my failures and remind me of what’s really important.


On August.

It seems we’ve finally found a summer groove and the back to school letters arrive.

Less than a month of summer break yet and I’m a mix of emotions. It took weeks to find order, routine, to make things work around here. We traveled and traveled and traveled some more through July that when I look back to the 4th of July it seems a hundred years ago and not just a month.

If June is just the beginning and August the end, July is the meat of the summer. And meat it was this year. From a day trip to Brainerd to an anniversary trip to the West back home for a breather and to the East. I saw both coasts in July.

I worked hard but worked little, my email is still out of whack. I owe texts and phone calls and emails and all sorts of stuff to too many people to count.

But now it’s August and it will be the downhill race of the summer. Where we can’t control how fast it goes because it’s all down hill. So we dig our heels in and try to slow down and enjoy just for a moment longer the feeling of summer air and freedom and the beauty of waking up with a blank calendar day.

Come September it will be just Miss F and I each day. Quite the change compared to last fall when I had three days a week with all three littles home when I was homeschooling H. I look back with awe because I am not sure how we did all that.

So this fall will be quiet and different and I get uncomfortable and antsy just thinking about it. Where some moms dream of the day they send their kids to school and celebrate their own freedom, I get wistful just thinking of the change and the idea that in some respect my babes are growing up.
We are in a sweet spot this August. It is sweet and will never last long enough to satisfy me because August means summer must end.

{More on our trip to the Atlantic Ocean to come.}

Shine Bright Bash at Children’s: To Support Children’s Cancer & Blood Disorders Program

I’m super excited that J and I will be attending the Shine Bright Bash next month at Pourhouse in Minneapolis. The golden inaugural event put on by Children’s Hospitals and Clinics will be all for raising money and support for Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Program.


The event, taking place on Saturday September 13, will be held at The Pourhouse Minneapolis with a 1920′s theme. 1920′s flair and cocktail apparel is suggested {what am I going to wear!?!}

Did you know that Children’s Hospital cares for more children than any other Minnesota hospital each year? And that their cancer and blood disorder program is the largest in the Midwest?

Join in and help support both a valuable Minnesota resource and organization and programming that is literally saving and changing lives.

Tickets are available NOW and you can purchase them here.

You can also enter to WIN a set of tickets from Children’s right here. Hurry though! You only have until Friday to enter the giveaway, winner to be announced Monday!

If you’re going, please do let me know. And if you’re not but can donate to the event or cause, please do.

Together, Minnesota, can continue to change and improve the lives of sick children.

Shine Bright Bash

Saturday, September 13 Event begins at 7:00 p.m. with program and dance to follow

The Pourhouse Minneapolis

10 South 5th Street Minneapolis

 {Disclosure: J and I were invited to attend Shine Bright Bash as guests of Children’s Hospitals and Clinics. We are personally so grateful for Children’s and our continued working relationship.}

The Giver Movie Review. Opens Friday.

Another guest post from my friend, Kim who filled in while I was out of town!

A few weeks ago while Samara was on vacation with her family, I had the opportunity to fill in and cover THE GIVER for Simplicity in the Suburbs. This included an early screening of the movie as well as interviewing two of the main characters, Brenton Thwaits (“Jonas”) and Odeya Rush (“Fiona”).

The movie is based on the book by Lois Lowry, which I had by chance just read earlier this summer in anticipation of the movie coming out (it’s an easy read and one that I highly recommend!) If you are not familiar with THE GIVER, here is a quick synopsis:
The haunting story of THE GIVER centers on Jonas (Brenton Thwaites), a young man who lives in a seemingly ideal, if colorless, world of conformity and contentment. Yet as he begins to spend time with The Giver (Jeff Bridges), who is the sole keeper of all the community’s memories, Jonas quickly begins to discover the dark and deadly truths of his community’s secret past. With this newfound power of knowledge, he realizes that the stakes are higher than imagined – a matter of life and death for himself and those he loves most. At extreme odds, Jonas knows that he must escape their world to protect them all – a challenge that no one has ever succeeded at before.


THE GIVER is based on Lois Lowry’s beloved young adult novel of the same name, which was the winner the 1994 Newbery Medal and has sold over 12 million copies worldwide.

I really enjoyed the movie and thought it was a good adaptation of the book. In a panel interview that I watched of Lois Lowry at Comic-Con, she even said that she would love to go back and re-write parts of the book to include portions of the screen play.

I loved that it was shot in both black & white and color, which is one of the key memories Jonas receives. The community was portrayed very much along the lines of what I envisioned when reading the book and the cast includes some pretty big names (Jeff Bridges “The Giver” and Meryl Streep “Chief Elder”).
In the movie, the main characters are older than in the book so I asked why they felt this was done-
Brenton Thwaits: It helped for developing the love story between Jonas & Fiona.

With that, as the story line between Jonas and Fiona is much more developed in the movie than the book, I asked what inspired Odeya in developing her character-
Odeya Rush: I drew from my family experiences, as I have 4 younger brothers, and I also did a lot of volunteering at a hospital in South Africa to help develop Fiona’s nurturing side. As for being without emotion throughout most of the movie, that was harder to portray as I’m an emotional person.

The memory of “love” that Jonas receives is one that proves to be pivotal, so I asked why and if he agreed-
Brenton: While love was the deeper emotion missing from the society, I actually think it was the combination of love and the images of war that ultimately moved Jonas to act.

The book’s ending is highly ambiguous and debated by many…I asked what they thought of the movie’s ending and how it compared-
Brenton: It’s about survival and I think the movie captured the intensity of that, especially the hope for the future.

On a lighter note, I asked them what their favorite part of filming was and both agreed it was filming with “Gabriel,” Jonas’ unofficial baby brother. Twins Alex and James were cast in that role and I loved that this was something both Brenton and Odeya enjoyed, which I believe reinforces the idea that there is hope and joy in the future.

THE GIVER opens nationwide on August 15th.

Did you read The Giver in school growing up? Do you have plans on seeing the movie?

Here and There and Everywhere.

It’s Monday and we’ve just wrapped up yet another weekend that went by too quickly. Date night and a local parade and carnival and house projects filled our days and we all slept good each night.

I have been thinking and dwelling a lot this week about life and friendships and changes and my kids growing up. The idea of both H and E being in full day school seemed so far, far away just the other day it seems when we were in the middle of the crazy days. I look back at pictures and it’s like I had two babies for so long even though there is nearly 2 1/2 years between the two of them. Two in diapers, two in pack and plays while we traveled, two to manage. The old saying that the days are long but the years are short has never seemed more true.

I also have reflected and thought a lot about relationships. It’s not hard to feel pulled here and there and everywhere. I had dinner with some friends last Thursday night. A dinner that had been on the calendar for nearly three months time because everybody is so busy. We sat and we ate and we drank and we talked about insignificant things like school supplies and house decorating and significant things like losing parents and sick parents and the hurt. And two of the friends at this dinner and I have known each other since we each had just one babe and our life and our circle and days revolved around just them. And then we added more, one by one, to where we are today. There’s something about that that is so tender.


In the case you don’t follow me on Facebook, here’s some things I’ve been writing elsewhere lately.

On a road trip parenting conundrum

Meet CurePity Heroes Ambassadors- The Feyereisen triplets.

And tonight I’m participating in a Twitter chat on vaccines with Children’s and Twin Cities Mom’s Blog.


Just Between Friends Sale-Coon Rapids! Starts TOMORROW!

If you’re like me, the thought of back to school clothes shopping is a stitch overwhelming. While I actually tend to enjoy shopping and picking out new, cute things for them each to wear, sometimes my idea of a good outfit for school and their idea for a good outfit for school is quite different. Add on to that the cost and all I see is dollar signs.

But good news! Just Between Friends Coon Rapids opens Friday {August 8} for their back to school sale.

This consignment sale is a good one. With a huge inspection process that takes place beforehand you know that you aren’t buying cheap-o, stained or damaged clothing. It’s only the good stuff and typically at prices that are too good to pass up.



I’m excited to go and take a wander and stock up for my littlest two girls at least. Some rompers and dresses and even a hoodie or two and I’ll at least feel as though we’ve got a good handle on it.

The sale starts Friday morning and runs through Tuesday.

Monday August 11- All grandparents receive 25% off!

Tuesday August 12: Halfprice Day! MOST items are half off!

While there is typically a $2 admission the first day of the sale, you can print a coupon for free admission right here. The rest of the days of the sale are FREE.

The Just Between Friends Coon Rapids sale is located in Northtown Village at 10 Coon Rapids Blvd.

For more information on Just Between Friends and some common misconceptions, check out what I wrote about them awhile back right here. 

Will you be attending the JBF sale? What are you stocking up on this fall?


JCPenney Optical Back to School Promotion- Sponsored

This is a sponsored post. This post was made possible by Mom Spark Media. Thoughts are mine.

It’s back to school time and in our house that means new glasses time for H.
UntitledGlasses can be quite expensive and kids aren’t always very careful with the very expensive investment.

That’s why the JCPenney Optical Back to School Promotion is a great time to stock up on glasses.

For just $29.99 you can purchase a complete pair of kids’ designer eyeglasses {valued at $120 or less}. The deal includes FREE impact and scratch resistant polycarbonate lenses, FREE UV protection and FREE eyeglass protection for any school aged child 16 and under.

The deal is good through September 15.

JCPenney has a variety of kids’ frames available and while they can do any prescription there are some exclusions to the $29.99 deal.

JCPenney Optical would like to give one of my readers a $30 gift card to take advantage of the Back to School special.

You can enter the Rafflecopter giveaway right here.
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This is a sponsored post. This post was made possible by Mom Spark Media. Thoughts are mine.

Free Golf on Your Birthday in Minnesota

So last week was J’s birthday and in the spirit of trying to make up for missing his actual birthday because the kids and I were in Virginia Beach {more on that soon-ish} and he was in Minnesota I did a little research into where he would be able to golf free for his birthday.

I pretty much hit the jackpot and having a midsummer birthday is the best ever because there are so many options for free golf.
Here’s the rundown:

The Wilds Golf Club- Prior Lake {Join their e-club and get a free round of golf with the purchase of a cart and another paid golfer. Good for 7 days before or after your birthday OR half birthday if your birthday is a winter one.}

Chaska Town Course {Join their e-club and get a free round in your birthday or half birthday month. One per foursome.}

Stoneridge Golf Course- Stillwater {Join e-link and get a free round 5 days prior to or after your birthday or half birthday.}

Rush Creek Golf Course- Maple Grove {Join eclub and receive a free round one week prior to or after your birthday or half birthday

Know of any other great birthday deals for golf?