At the Sportshow your family can enjoy these highlights and more:
At the Sportshow your family can enjoy these highlights and more:
It happens every January. As the cold, icy weather sets up camp outside for a few months, and restless kid/cabin fever sets in at my house, my Facebook feed starts filling up with pictures of friends getting away to warmer places, with envy-worthy views of beaches, palm trees, tourist attractions, and of course, lots of smiling, relaxed faces.
Yearning to take my own family away from it all, too, I know there has to be a way to escape the winter blues without spending a fortune to transport all of us somewhere far, far away.
Thankfully there is, and I’m still in awe, because recently my kids and I were invited to enjoy the perfect solution – a weekend staycation at the Radisson Blu Mall of America!
I’m still amazed at what an incredible experience it was – from the valet parking to the accommodations, meals and activities. We felt like we were completely leaving winter behind, and you know why? Because thanks to the Radisson Blu’s direct access to the Mall of America (via an indoor skyway bridge/hall/whatever-you-call-it), we never had to be in the cold, even once!
From the moment we arrived, we felt so welcomed and special, and were so impressed with the hotel’s modern design and stylish decor. We were brought to our room which was all ready for us personally, with a kids’ tent all set up with my kids’ names spelled out inside! The tent, by the way, we could keep (!), thanks to the Family Fun with Marty the Moose package that we received.
In addition to the kids’ tent, the Family Fun Package includes tickets to the Sea Life Aquarium or wristbands to Nickelodeon Universe, plus an age-appropriate Blu Kids Club scavenger hunt to do in the hotel, complete with prizes! The concierge were so nice to my kids as they gave them their passports to get stamped as they found places/items around the hotel and picked out their prizes – SkyDeck game cards or stuffed animals (my kids loved the stuffed animals). [Read more…]
Yesterday I had the indescribable, humbling experience of sitting in a quiet theater to see a special advance screening of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, 3 days before its release. I sat with fellow media personalities and representatives – from newspaper reporters and journalists to familiar faces we all know from TV and radio (like Jason and Alexis!). We all had to agree not to post any spoilers or anything about this movie screening, plus we had to wait to post our reviews until a specific date (today for online reviews). It was hard to not go all giddy on Facebook about being one of only a handful of people to see the movie before the official release…but I controlled myself. Until now, that is.
And now I get to tell you about how awesome this movie is.
Don’t worry – you won’t get any spoilers from me. I won’t ruin the movie for you (I know some fellow die-hard Star Wars fans who won’t talk to me ever again if I did). But I will say this – Incredible. Magical. Familiar. And GIRL POWER.
I went in not knowing really anything about the movie or who was in it – other than the famous trio, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, and Mark Hamill, who return as themselves, aged yet robust in their original character roles.
Of the six previous Star Wars movies, my favorites, like for many, are the original three…episodes 4, 5 & 6, which now lead us into the new Star Wars movie, episode 7. I enjoyed when they updated the original three with the vastly improved computer technology and brought back to the big screen in the late 1990s, and I was entertained when episodes 1, 2 and 3 were released.
Sesame Street Live “Make a New Friend” is coming to the Target Center in Minneapolis January 15 & 16!
My kids have grown up with Sesame Street and all the characters from Elmo to Ernie, who of course will all be there!
No matter where you’re from or where you’ve been, everyone is special – so join in! Elmo, Grover, Abby Cadabby, and their Sesame Street friends welcome Chamki, Grover’s friend from India, to Sesame Street. Together, they explore the universal fun of friendship and celebrate cultrual similarities, from singing and dancing to sharing cookies! [Read more…]
Fellow moms, coffee lovers, anyone who likes a good latte or mocha now and then – I want to introduce you to the Ninja Coffee Bar, a compact coffee maker that fits on your countertop!
I’ve been on cloud nine since receiving my own Ninja Coffee Bar to review. But I have to start with a confession.
No, it’s not something lame like “I can’t live a day without coffee!!!” You guys probably already knew that about me by now. 😉
Here’s the thing. Recently, before receiving my Ninja Coffee Bar, I was pretty frugal about everything except one thing – coffee. Life had just gotten super crazy and I had been stopping a bit too frequently at local coffee shops and the gas station to get my coffee. Why? It was better than what I could make at home!
However, after receiving and trying out my Ninja Coffee Bar, it was obvious to me that I no longer needed to stop somewhere to get coffee shop quality coffee. I could easily do it at home and for a fraction of the price!
The Ninja Coffee Bar is a new coffee brewer that fits on your countertop just like a regular coffee maker, but offers a lot more. It features Thermal Flavor Extraction™ technology, which means it “blends Precision Water Delivery with automated controls for Calibrated Temperature, Pre-infusion, Coffee Saturation, and Flavor Richness.” In simpler words, while it uses ground coffee like other coffee brewers, it truly unlocks the coffee’s full flavor potential! [Read more…]
The Twin Cities has many indoor playgrounds for little ones to get out those wiggles anytime of year. But if you haven’t yet brought your kids to Good Times Park in Eagan, I HIGHLY suggest putting it on your bucket list for the current it’s-getting-colder-out(!) season.
Good Times Park is a one-of-a-kind, family-owned indoor play place and family recreational park. It was the idea of Bonnie O’Meara, a mom who saw the need for a unique place for families to remain active throughout the year. She and her husband operate the park, which is open 365 days a year from 7:00am to 9:30pm.
ALL DAY, EVERY DAY OF THE YEAR? How is this possible?
Good Times Park is unstaffed, which means that you need to pay online beforehand, or pay electronically using a computer terminal at the door. You can either buy a Play Today Pass or a Membership, and then you’ll get an entrance code to use. The cost for a Play Today Pass is $8.00 – a little higher than most indoor playgrounds – but after spending HOURS here with my kids on our first visit (and not seeing it all!), I can say you easily get your money’s worth here.
Good Times Park is like an outdoor park that was brought inside. An ideal concept for Minnesota, I must say. Just like at the Mall of America you can enjoy an amusement park year-round, at Good Times Park you can play on real playground equipment, enjoy a 40′ x 80′ basketball court, run around on a 4000-square-foot open field and jump on a kangaroo jumper.
A what? Yup – that’s what this unusual but super fun inflated family jumper is. Good Times Park is the first to have a “kangaroo jumper” in Minnesota. My kids couldn’t get enough of this funky thing – it was the first area they had to try out, and it was the last thing they wanted to do before I nearly had to throw them each over my shoulder to get them to leave this place!
There was always someone or a family jumping on the jumper together while we were there (so yes, moms and dads – it’s for you too!). Socks are required so I suggest wearing or bringing some for your whole family.
There are even some play features that MOVE – like this “elevator” that my kids didn’t want to stop riding!
Oh, and I HAVE to mention the Hologram Game. This thing is so cool! There are motion activated games projected on the floor (like who wouldn’t want one of these as a kid?). They’re quick games and change every couple of minutes. My kids loved chasing after and stepping on the projected “objects” that moved, and playing the giant piano!
The Good Times Park Court has many options for ball play – and even has a hopscotch area. We didn’t have time for this area but I can see this as being popular with the older kids.
“The Backyard” is a real field where kids and families can play soccer, football, tag, or even old-fashioned hula hoops.
One thing parents of younger children will like is the Itty Bitty Play Space that’s reserved for infants and toddlers age 3 and under. It’s a safe area for wee ones to crawl around for both fun and sensory development.
What’s an indoor playground without a picnic area? With seating for up to 100, you can bring and enjoy your own food and drink here, and store your belongings in one of the cubbies. It’s the only area of the facility where food and drink are allowed, and some vending machines are available, but I think it’s very cool that you can bring your own for a frugal picnic on a rainy summer day or a freezing-our-noses-off winter night!
Check out their interactive map for all the fun features and areas of the facility (including their Imagine & Build area with giant foam blocks and more)!
What else do you need to know?
I felt this place is very clean and safe. Guests are expected to clean up after themselves, which didn’t seem to be an issue as everything seemed tidy and sanitary.
Without staff, parents might be concerned about what to do in an emergency. We visited on a Monday evening and there were a good number of people there, plus there’s a first aid area.
Overall our family had a GREAT time here (maybe it should be called Great Times Park instead?).
My kids had so much fun and I felt good about the open space of the facility – I could sit on a bench (yes, there are several!) and see them whether they were in the playground area or on the family jumper or the Hologram Game. Will we come back? When we left my kids were already talking about coming back, so that’s a definite “yup.” Next time I think we’ll bring some friends, enjoy a picnic lunch and stay a bit longer.
$8.00 per child age 1 – 17 years old (kids under age 1 and accompanying adults are FREE!)
For more information, visit the Good Times Park website. It’s located at:
Here’s a map to help you find it, too.
(Disclosure: I was provided with complimentary passes for our kids in exchange for my sharing my experience. However, as always, all opinions are 100% mine.)
My pink-loving daughter and I are very excited to share that the new Barbie & Her Sisters in the Great Puppy Adventure movie was just released on Blu-Ray/DVD!
Watch this fun preview:
Barbie™ and her sisters, Skipper™, Stacie™ and Chelsea™, and their adorable new puppy friends find unexpected mystery and adventure when they return to their hometown of Willows. While going through mementos in Grandma’s attic, the sisters discover an old map, believed to lead to a long-lost treasure buried somewhere in the town. With their puppy pals in tow, the four girls go on an exciting treasure hunt, along the way discovering that the greatest treasure of all is the love and laughter they share as sisters!
To enter the giveaway, just fill out the Rafflecopter form below by Thursday, November 5th at 11:00pm. Winners will be randomly selected Tuesday, November 6th and contacted by email. Winners will have 48 hours to respond and claim prize. Good luck!
(Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this movie in exchange for hosting this giveaway. All opinions are 100% mine.)
(Disclosure: I received compensation in exchange for my time promoting the grand opening of Fresh Thyme. All thoughts and opinions are 100% mine.)
This Wednesday, September 30th my 4-year-old and I attended the Grand Opening Day of the NEW Fresh Thyme in Bloomington with hundreds of other excited Twin Cities shoppers.
I LOVE shopping at quality grocery stores, and I have to tell you, there were many good reasons this store was busy – the most obvious for us being the enjoyable experience we had from beginning to end!
With its warm, bright and clean farmhouse feel, Fresh Thyme feels like a weekend farmers market in the summer, but is also like a cross between a neighborhood grocery store and a natural foods store. Their mission is to improve the way communities eat by offering all of this:
Fresh Thyme is also passionate about anything and everything “local” – from their produce to their products to their employees and organizations they support. I could see how involved they are in the community – from their partnerships with (and gifts to) Bridging MN and the Bloomington Fine Arts Council, to the local vendors and musicians celebrating with them this week!
Local bluegrass musicians King Wilkie’s Dream were performing fun, lively music as guests shopped throughout the store.
Fresh and colorful is how I’d best describe the variety you’ll find at this store. The food throughout the produce section and the bakery and beyond was top quality with a huge selection of organic choices. And many were at great sale prices such as $.99 for a pint of grape tomatoes or $.39 for carrots or green onions – you can see their weekly flyer on their website here.
You can find just about any kind of meat and fish from their extensive butcher department, including grass-fed and organic meat. Fresh Thyme also offers over 12 varieties of natural, handmade sausage – made in-store daily. Fresh Thyme’s recipes use all natural seasonings with no MSG. We got to try some natural sausage in the store and bought a box (we love sausage in our house and I was very happy to find tasty sausage with no preservatives!).
I think fresh-squeezed orange juice IS THE BEST but I have a hard time finding it, so I was SO happy to find an abundance of fresh-squeezed juices with many samples to try nearby! I bought a big jug of the fresh-squeezed orange juice for $6.99. Nothing beats fresh-squeezed orange juice with breakfast!!!!
There are over 300 bins of natural and organic self-serve bulk items. Bulk items range from grains, granola, beans, snack items and more. Something VERY exciting for a 4-year-old, clearly (ha – I think he’s imagining all the mischief he could get into in this aisle!)!
I was really impressed with the “fill your own” honey dispensers, offering agave nectar as well. You could also fill a container with cooking oil from a carousel nearby featuring many different varieties (including, of course, olive oil).
BUILD. YOUR. OWN. PIZZA! Each store includes a Fresh Thyme Kitchen where their staff will put together your own customized pizza or you can order a hot sandwich to go. They also feature prepared salads and meals as well as a full salad bar. How easy is that for a quick meal on the go for yourself or your whole family?
There’s SO much more to see at Fresh Thyme in Bloomington (go visit their website to learn more and see the latest specials!). A few more things I want to highlight:
Fresh Thyme is open 7:00am – 10:00pm daily and is located at:
2100 W. 80 ½ St.
Bloomington, MN 55431
There’s a parking lot right in front of the store, but if it’s full, don’t worry! There’s also an underground parking lot with carts and an elevator that goes directly into the store!
The grand opening festivities continue through this weekend with vendor demos, entertainment and giveaways. Stay tuned for more family-friendly events by following them online!
I think Fresh Thyme is how a grocery store SHOULD be, and so I’m excited for more stores to open around Minnesota so everyone will have a Fresh Thyme near them!
For more information visit:
Video gamers and Minecraft fans, listen up – there’s a cool new after-school video game league for kids coming to the Twin Cities starting NEXT WEEK!
Super League is the world’s first in-theater video game league for kids. It offers an after-school enrichment program that leverages Minecraft on a BIG screen for a social, fun, and interactive learning experience.
Check this out:
Minecraft is already well known for its educational value (if you’re not familiar with Minecraft – it’s a game about breaking and placing blocks to create structures and much more). However, Super League takes it one step further by assigning participants to teams where they work together towards a common goal. It’s brain food for kids!
Starting October 6th, Super League Gaming is hitting the Twin Cities area to bring together young gamers.
Here’s what you need to know:
Super League is a great opportunity for parents to get their gamer kids out of the house for a night of interactive gaming and educational fun!
Sign up now for a 6-week session Oct. 6 – Nov. 10 at:
Regal Eagan Stadium 16
2055 Cliff Road, Eagan
(Disclosure: Though I being compensated for this post, I’m excited to share this educational activity for kids, and all opinions are 100% mine.)
One lucky Twin Cities Frugal Mom reader will win a ticket for the 6-week Super League Gaming session happening in Eagan starting October 6th! Value is $100! Enter by filling out the Rafflecopter form below by Saturday, October 4th at 11:00pm. Winner will be randomly selected on Sunday, October 5th and contacted by email. Good luck!
Minnesota’s FIRST Fresh Thyme Farmers Market grocery store opens in Bloomington this Wednesday, September 30th at 7:00am!
Fresh Thyme focuses on healthy and nutritious food and is passionate about making “local” a focus of each store.
The Grand Opening is this Wednesday, September 30 starting at 6:45am with a ribbon cutting and check presentation to community partners.
Plus, get in line early because the first 250 customers on Grand Opening Day will receive a FREE Bag of Groceries valued at $50 or more!
I can’t wait to visit and share the fun with you on Grand Opening Day! [Read more…]