Category Archives: Minnesota

Revisiting Tim Hortons

It’s always exciting when new businesses show up in my home town. Recently, in Prior Lake, we acquired a few new restaurants and businesses, but the most exciting to me was the arrival of Tim Hortons. Neal and I stopped at a Tim Hortons while traveling on our honeymoon and I have found myself wishing ever since that there was one near home.

Two weeks back, on July first, I decided to venture over to our local Tim Hortons for the first time. Boy was that a mistake, which I am currently laughing about. I failed to recall that it was indeed Canada Day and that Tim Hortons is a Canadian company. The entire place was packed with local Canadians and they had no donuts left, which is what I was on a mission for.

Sadly, after standing in line for fifteen minutes until I could finally see the doughnut case was empty, I left empty handed. I decided to try again the following weekend. This time I went through the drive through. I was disappointed to find out that they do not have old fashioned chocolate or blueberry doughnuts, so my husband and I settled for something other than what we were looking for. I did try the coffee, which I admit was quite tasty.

I cannot comment on the other food at Tim Hortons, because I have not tried it. They do have a vast menu and I could definitely see myself stopping in to try one of their sandwiches or other specialty items in the future. Their website will definitely make you hungry, the sandwiches look amazing. I would probably drink the coffee again, but not unless I were ordering something else off the menu to go with it.

After this experience I can truly say that I would be just as happy going over to Holiday for a doughnut when I’m going through that twice per year craving. Tim Hortons doughnut price is a little extreme when I know I can find something similar and just as tasty for a less. I had definitely built this business up in my head, but then again, Neal and I were also on our honeymoon, so everything looked pretty great.

For more information on Tim Hortons, please visit: http://www.timhortons.com/us/en/index.php

Adventures In House Hunting

Here’s another great adventure that I am currently a part of; finding a new home. We sold our house a week ago today and we have a little over a month to move out. We have looked at roughly fifteen houses and I am already tired of this search, but frequently my exhilaration is renewed, so this too shall pass.

Now this isn’t your typical adventure, but it is an adventure none the less. The feelings a person goes through when selling their home can be all over the board. We had our house sold in 48 hours; ten days later, after playing all sorts of mind games, our buyer bailed. Talk about frustrating. I didn’t want to relist our house, I was bummed. The house went again in 48 hours. The new buyer offered us a better deal and made our lives much easier. My husband and I are very happy with the outcome.

When you look for a house there are so many things to keep in mind. How big is it? Do the room sizes fit your needs? Does it have a ton of stairs, or is everything on one level? Is there enough garage space to accommodate my toys? How much can I afford to spend? Do I want to live in the city or the country? How much are the taxes? What sort of heat source does it have? I could go on for days. There are so many questions to answer before making a decision on what houses you will actually go see and on top of that the market is moving so fast the house could be sold before you get to it.

We have been looking at homes online for months now. It is exhausting, especially when you have a time crunch, which makes it even more stressful. We were very interested in one house and it was bought out from under us. Now we have two possibilities. Today we made an offer on one of those homes.

After deciding to make our offer we found out there is another offer out there, so I am going on faith that if we get this home, it’s meant to be. If our offer is not accepted then I will take that as a sign to continue looking, because something better is out there. Despite all of this, my stomach feels a little sick. I am not very patient when waiting for important news; I am working on improving that.

This time tomorrow we will know whether or not our offer has been accepted. As I say this, note I am still looking at houses online, even though I am tired of the house hunt. To all of you out there who are in the same situation, happy hunting, and may you find your dreams being answered. I know whatever happens, in a little over a month we will be moving into our new home and the thought of that is completely satisfying and makes this all worth the time and effort we have put in.

Get Your Groupon On!

Whenever I am getting ready for a trip, or I need a night out for dinner, or a massage to relax, there is one place I look to without fail. That place is Groupon. I am sure that many of my readers will recall hearing me speak of Groupon in the past. Groupon is a site where you can get goods and services, as well as vacation packages, for a fraction of their original cost.

Groupon is located all over the US; some cities have caught on more quickly than others. My home town for instance, Eau Claire, Wisconsin, has some Groupons available, but not enough to make me happy at this point. Places like Las Vegas, however, have all sorts of Groupon services and items to choose from.

To use Groupon, all you have to do is add the app to your phone, or go to their website: www.groupon.com. You then type in the location you are interested in, and voila, all sorts of things will pop up. One thing to note is that most goods can be ordered no matter your location, but the voucher will say if it has any stipulations.

When we go to Las Vegas or anywhere on vacation, I always check to see if there are deals on hotel rooms, restaurants, or things to do. Most often we will find several restaurant options. Something important to understand is that most likely the business providing the offer is only making a quarter of what they normally would on the service or item they are offering. Groupon gets the other quarter of the price, because the price is half of what it would normally be. With this in mind, please tip well if you are going to dinner, or to get a massage, etc.

If you purchase a Groupon, always make sure you keep the expiration date in mind. You want to make sure your voucher is good during the dates you are traveling before you purchase it. If your voucher expires, however, you can still use the amount you originally paid, toward the service.

For the business owner who is looking to use Groupon, there are things you should keep in mind. The purpose of Groupon is to help businesses bring in new clientele, however, depending on whom you are and what you offer, most often the people who buy Groupons do not return. They are simply looking for a deal and providing you with fast cash, though it is a fraction of what you would normally make on your provided service. If you are a massage therapist, this could be great for you. If you are a Reiki Practitioner, like me, and people don’t necessarily know what Reiki is, this will bring in some clients, but not necessarily the amount you would hope for.

As a business on the selling end of Groupon, I have had a lot of frustrations with the company. They wouldn’t give me what I wanted in my advertisement; they didn’t like to return my calls or emails. I requested a different account manager and never had my request met, and then suddenly my account manager was gone from the company and I was never told about a replacement. I am not saying this will be your experience, I am sure others have had great experiences; mine just didn’t go how I had pictured.

If you are dealing with Groupon as a client who has an issue, they are pretty great. They tend to rectify issues quite quickly. Usually if there is a problem with the Groupon, they will refund your money. Sometimes they will give you a credit. I have never been let down by the final outcome of my request for remedying an issue with a business.

If you love online shopping and deals, check out Groupon. They can save the average person quite a bit of money on a daily basis, especially if you are open to trying new things. Just be careful, Groupon can become a little addicting when you start receiving discount codes on a regular basis.

For more information on Groupon, please visit: https://www.groupon.com/

 

A Look At Stillwater, Minnesota

Minnesota is a beautiful state, full of wonderful things to do during any season. One of my favorite towns to visit, especially during the summer, is Stillwater. This city is located right on the St. Croix River and really is a great place to visit any time of year. I prefer summer months because of the river and being able to sit out on patios while enjoying a glass of wine or a meal.

Stillwater has a ton of options for staying. There are many Bed & Breakfasts to choose from as well as hotels. One particular place I love to stay at is the Water Street Inn. I have stayed at this Inn on three different occasions and every single experience I have had was memorable and fun. The Water Street Inn features fireplaces and whirlpools in each room. You also have a community patio that faces out toward the river. You won’t be staying on the water at any of the other Inn’s in town. They also have their own restaurant and bar and they are located right in the middle of downtown. Location, location, location; it doesn’t get much better than that.

If you prefer something more secluded for your stay in Stillwater and you don’t mind driving, you could definitely choose any of the other B&B locations around town. I have previously stayed at the Outing Lodge at Pine Point. Not all rooms have a whirlpool, but this Inn has great food and a bar in the basement that showcases live music at times. It is set back in the woods and has a very nice romantic feel to it. This makes a great place for staying in the winter; you can easily go snowshoeing or skiing on the trails nearby. The owners make your stay very homey, at one point they brought around fresh made chocolate chip cookies, talk about winning some points there.

For those who are into good food and wine, downtown has a lot to offer. Northern Vineyards is a great place to go and take part in some wine tasting, they also have a balcony in the back where you can sit and drink wine while looking out at the river. If you are looking for great food and a view of the river, The Freight House is a wonderful experience, though on the pricier side. To enjoy some tasty Italian, Buona Sera features some great food, which I very much enjoyed; reservations are recommended. For a more low-key outing away from the high end food, there is also any number of pubs on Main Street to choose from, some of which have music on weekends.

During daylight hours you can easily wander Main Street and find plenty to do. There are quite a few antique shops, bookstores, and art stores to keep you busy. Stillwater frequently is the place to be for outdoor craft fairs as well. If you would like to spend some time on the water you can take a trip over to the St. Croix Boat & Packet Co., and sign up for one of their scenic river boat cruises. Whatever you do, be sure to end your day watching the sunset. You won’t regret this beautiful view over the St. Croix River.

For more information on Stillwater, please visit the following sites: http://www.discoverstillwater.com/

http://waterstreetinn.us/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=GMB

http://outinglodge.com/

http://www.stillwaterriverboats.com/

http://northernvineyards.com/

 

 

 

 

Nights At The Candlelight Inn

Living a life with a very busy schedule tends to make it hard to connect with your significant other. To help the flame continue to burn, we like to take trips to Bed & Breakfasts every so often. We have been to several different Inn’s throughout Minnesota and most of them have been pleasant and enjoyable stays.

On two different occasions this past winter and spring, we stayed at the Candlelight Inn, which is a Victorian Bed & Breakfast, located in Redwing, Minnesota. Sometimes we stay in different rooms when we return to an inn, these particular ventures led us back to the exact same suite. We enjoyed the room so much we couldn’t imagine going to a different one.

We stayed in the Butternut Suite, which is the largest room at the Inn. There was a refrigerator with water and soda in it. The room had a sitting area, fireplace, television, table and chairs, and a very comfortable Queen Size bed. The bathroom had an oversized pink whirlpool with shower, which of course is my favorite part of any B&B stay.

In the afternoon when you check in the hostess is kind enough to leave out some wine and an afternoon snack. If you are looking for a place to eat dinner she is great about giving out ideas. The owners go a long way to make you feel like you are at home when you stay at the Candlelight Inn.
At the end of breakfast the hostess comes out to give you a history of the Inn. You can tell that she very much loves the house and enjoys telling its stories. She will readily answer any questions and give you a very lively answer.

The food at the Candlelight Inn is wonderful to say the least. I had no complaints either time we stayed. My favorite part of breakfast was the dessert part, because it was at type of chocolate mousse and it was delightful. This is definitely an Inn that cares about giving their guests a great dining experience, which I feel is important since it is a huge part of staying at a Bed & Breakfast.

If you are looking for a nice place to stay in the Redwing, Minnesota area, look no further than the Candlelight Inn. To book your stay, please visit: http://candlelightinn-redwing.com/guest-rooms/

A Night At Treasure Island

Sometimes in the craziness of life, you just need to take a night and get away from home. Lately things have been busy. My husband and I are in the process of selling our house, so we have been working like mad to get things in order. Since we haven’t had a ton of time to connect lately, we decided to do an overnight trip to Treasure Island Resort & Casino, located in Welch, Minnesota.

TI was nice enough to offer us a free night stay, but we chose to upgrade our room to a whirlpool suite. We arrived at 3pm for check-in and the line was minimal. We received our room keys and went up to inspect our room. Upon walking into the room we were happy to see that we had a living room which a couch and television, kitchen table, and mini kitchenette with refrigerator and microwave. Each fridge has free water and regular, as well as diet, Pepsi. You are left coffee, popcorn, and some small packages of Oreos. I found this gesture to be very kind since it seems so seldom that hotels offer free food and beverage amenities anymore.

The bedroom was separated from the sitting area by a set of white French doors. Inside was a king size bed, another television, and our whirlpool. There was also a vanity with sink and mirror outside of the bathroom as well as inside. The shower curtain in our bathroom was kind of yellow and old looking, but otherwise the room was clean. There was also a second bathroom with stool and sink in the entryway to the suite.

After stowing our items in the room, we decided to go check out the buffet. We have eaten at TI’s buffet on several occasions. While my husband loves this buffet, I only like certain things about it. The coffee is great; I cannot get enough of it. They have a great selection of desserts. The food, however, can be hit or miss. Last time I visited, the ribs tasted great but were cold. This time they were hot but tasteless. Neal always gets the Pad Thai, which has been pretty consistent.  They have great potatoes, pizza, and pot roast. If I could change one thing, it would be that the food would be consistently hot. I don’t like cold food; I see no excuse for it.

After dinner we did hit up the casino for a little fun. If you are non-smokers, they now have a great non-smoking section, which has its own bar. This section was newly added in February and they are currently using the bar located in this area to test different beverages and wines on customers to see what people like. They usually have a signature drink and so far, of the two we have tried, they have both been tasty.

The bed and pillows in our room were quite comfortable, once I got everything adjusted. The only problem I ran into was that apparently our mattress cover had ripped and was completely bunched up under the sheets when I got into bed; I found this to be slightly irritating, but minor. I slept well and awoke feeling quite rested after my time in the whirlpool and a good night’s sleep. We were not disturbed at all by the neighbors, which was also a win in my book.

Overall I give Treasure Island a 7. The buffet is decent but not always consistent, and we have run into issues with our rooms missing light bulbs and having broken items a couple of times. This resort does have great amenities though. We have never checked out the water-park or bowling alley, but we plan to on a future visit. We always have fun at TI and we will definitely visit again.

For more information on Treasure Island Resort & Casino, please visit: http://www.ticasino.com/

Eating In Uptown At Stella’s Fish Cafe

If you are looking for a fine dining experience in the Twin Cities, you should check out Stella’s Fish Café. Stella’s is definitely on the pricier end, but the food has been nothing but exceptional from the start. My husband, Neal, and I, have eaten at Stella’s on three different occasions and we have walked away thoroughly satisfied, each and every time.

You can choose to eat at Stella’s for dinner or lunch. We ate there at dinner twice and lunch once. The service during lunch started out good, but then for whatever reason, ended poorly. We couldn’t seem to get refills on beverages, and it took a while to get the check. The other two times we visited, things ran quite smoothly with service.

We have not tried their oyster bar, but the Lobster Bake we have ordered more than once, has always been plenty of food for two. This particular meal left us wanting for nothing. It comes with a bottle of wine and a dessert. We had to take ours to go this last visit; we were just too full from the rest of the meal.

During our visit we had the Berry & Bri Salad, which was very tasty. We also had the Lobster Bisque and then of course the main dish of the Lobster Bake. Included in the bake is a tomato based stew with potatoes, shrimp, oysters, sausage, two full lobsters, and corn. It is served with a large chunk of bread on the side. After the main course we were given the choice of a couple of different desserts. We have tried the Flour-less Chocolate Cake, the Vanilla Crème Brulee, and the Warm Brownie Batter. We loved them all, but the two chocolate items would be number one on our reorder list.

Stella’s makes for a great romantic dinner. They run specials during Valentine’s, and sometimes you can find a Groupon to try them out. The meals are a bit pricey. I honestly wouldn’t feel the need to go here unless they were running a special or I had a Groupon. I like great food, and I like fancy meals, but I feel that you can find similar items, of the same quality, for less money at other places if you look around. Stella’s gets a 6 on my scale because of the price only. If money is no object to you, I would definitely recommend this restaurant for a wonderful food experience, any time.

For more information on Stella’s Fish Café, please visit: http://www.stellasfishcafe.com/stellasfishcafe/