Girls’ day out – toddler style

I’ve never been great at relaxing and although I’ve had many wonderful female friends in my life, I’ve never gotten the girls’ day concept. I will admit I occasionally get jealous of the posts about girlfriends grabbing coffee and heading to the salon or shopping and treating themselves to a little something.

Maybe, that is why I decided to start small – literally. Olivia had a day off school and I had a day off work so instead of just hanging around the house like we normally do I decided to plan a girls’ day out on the town. Of course, I had to keep little hands and interests appeased so there would be no salon stop. But, we would still have a coffee stop, shopping, and lots of treating ourselves to a good time.

If you ask Olivia where she wants to go in the morning, the answer will most likely be Caribou. We aren’t really sure where the preference or brainwashing came from, but she does have good taste. So that is where we started our day together. Sitting at a table with my iced coffee, her strawberry banana smoothie, and crumbs from a apple cinnamon muffin making their way across every available surface.Caribou coffee

The second place Olivia is sure to tell you she wants to go is Target. What can I say, we live in Minnesota? The kid talks about Target all the time, can spot a Target from miles away, and really should be in one of their ads. This is sort of the perfect place to wander on a girls’ day . . . we played with toys, found some cute spring outfits, ate a rice krispy treat, and found some new snacks (we are both grazers).

The place I was most excited for was the Stages Theatre in Hopkins. I had been looking for a fun show to take Olivia to, but I’m not sure she would sit through a movie in the movie theater and the Children’s theater can be so expensive (come on she is three years old and we are watching a weekday production of a children’s book!). So when I found out Stages Theatre Company puts on shows for children that bring their favorite children’s books and fairytales to life and it only costs $16.00 per person ­- I was sold. I had never been to downtown Hopkins, but it is a traditional little downtown with free public parking so win-win all around. The small theater is perfect for a group of fidgety kids. Comfy seats, booster seats provided, nothing is to far from the stage, and the length of the show is long enough to test their ability to sit still, but not so long that you need a cranky child intermission. For Olivia’s first ever theater visit we saw Goodnight Moon. The show was a cute rendition with talented acting, wonderful lights and sound effects, and a colorful set that kept our eyes glued to the stage.

Stages ThreatreAfter watching the bunny refuse bedtime and have a few adventures we were off to continue girls’ day. It was lunch time and both of our tummies were calling so we headed to a new spot – PizzaRev. I had never even heard of the place, but it was a tasty spot to stumble upon. A build your own pizza joint with a variety of topping options and a wonderful crackery thin crust. I let Olivia pick the toppings and we, of course, ended up with pepperoni, but surprisingly we also finished the pie off with mushrooms, black olives, and spinach. The pizza was great for sharing with a little one or you could easily have your own. All done in 15 minutes tasting fantastic it was a great find for when you have a hungry toddler in tow.Pizza Rev

After a second stop at Target (because why would we buy everything we need in one visit!) we finally headed home exhausted, but so happy. I think I get the appeal of the girls’ day now. I know for sure I’ll be doing more with Olivia and I can’t wait to see what new places we find as she gets older.

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Burgers and Bottles: A Quick Review

There are a lot of criteria you probably use to judge a dining establishment before you even take the first bite. One that I’ve learned to not put a lot of weight on is the location.

Traveling around the world there have been plenty of locales that I could have easily overlooked and missed out on some amazing food. The sandwich shop inside a gas station in Switzerland, the ice cream shop literally in the middle of nowhere in Tasmania, or the Jamaican dive in the middle of a cornfield in Kansas. Recently, I found another one of those spots closer to home. The all to familiar strip mall that is often filled with chain stores and below par food sometimes holds tasty surprises.

Tucked in a strip mall next to a gas station in the nearby town of Eagan, MN we recently had the pleasure of trying a new establishment that I’m hoping will not be overlooked. Burgers and Bottles might be a narrow and rather non-descript restaurant from the outside, but you step inside and instantly see the energy and care that the owners have put into their dining dream.

The owners did the demo themselves to turn the space into a cool bar with light wood and stone running throughout. The lights made of old glass soda bottles were fun to look at and the wall of colorful bottles kept Olivia entertained. The service was friendly and you can tell that the owners and staff are working to build a local following. This funky little space is a community gem – a cool place to hang out with great food and friendly locals.

Cheer Wine light

Speaking of the food, the menu is always changing, but it is full of handcrafted burgers, tasty sides, and killer desserts. The drink menu held our attention even without any mixed drinks on it; especially since there were a few regional sodas from back home that I don’t see here often. The soda list is extensive and a rundown of nostalgic pops made only with natural sugar. This throwback to a different time in restaurant food is really the overall theme. Burgers and Bottles prides itself on hand crafted burgers, fries made from real potatoes (did you hear McDonald’s fries have 18 ingredients!), sodas without high fructose corn syrup, and craft beers from family owned Minnesota breweries.

The hand crafted burgers were delicious! The juicy patties were perfectly seared on the outside and tucked in a soft fresh bun. We had a hard time deciding since all the unique combinations sounded delicious. We’ve been back twice now and tried the grilled mushroom & swiss burger, the guacamole burger, the chorizo burger, the bacon brisket burger, and the fried pickle burger. All amazing!

Guac burgerChorizo burgerPickle burgerReal potatoes

The fries were good, but what we really got addicted to were the battered green beans. The whole petite green bean is coated in a slightly spicy batter and quickly fried so the whole thing comes out crisp and delicious. Dip it in the chipotle ranch sauce and you could have a whole basket of them as a meal.

Good thing they offer carry out with online ordering because this might be our new go to on busy nights. Enjoy!

P.S. Share some of your favorite places to dine and I’ll add them to my wish list 🙂

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