Twin Cities Premium Outlets – Meh

So, I did it. It was on a whim, and it was crazy, but it happened! Outlet shopping at its finest. With all three of my boys.

I am pretty sure that most of the country currently live within driving distance of an outlet mall. I mean, they are EVERYWHERE! Outlet shopping used to be an excursion, a real day event. You would plan where you were going, how long you would stay, where to lunch and take pit stops. It was an event! Growing up, we didn’t have outlets near us in the Twin Cities and my outlet shopping began with visits to the Tanger outlets in Rehoboth Beach, DE. It was an annual event, a day spent trolling the Ralph Lauren, Gap and Coach Factory stores… Nowadays outlets are a dime a dozen and generally located in near-enough second or third ring suburbs. There is no need for a day trip.

Outlet malls may be more common, but that doesn’t  mean that the shops are less worthy of at least one trip… And on Sunday I got the itch to get the kids out of the house and check out the newest member of the suburban outlet family in the Twin Cities area: The Twin Cities Premium Outlets located on Eagan Outlets Parkway in Eagan, MN – a good 40 minutes from my house.

About 5 minutes into the drive Aiden asked if we were almost there. I should have turned around.

Even though the ride started out questionably, I ventured on as I was sure to find something neat at the stores of the Eagan center which are not in the Albertville outlet closest to my home (less than 20 minutes). True Religion, Saks Off 5th, Armani, J.Crew Factory Store… Oh, and I needed to stop in Sunglass Hut to get a couple new rubber arms for my Ray-Bans. Okay, this was totally going to be worth it.

Not so much.

We arrived. We got a decent parking spot in the lot located outside Saks Off 5th, so that was a good sign. It was cold, but we were ready to walk the mall. Our first stop was one of our most lucrative, although a bit disturbing. Saks was filled to the brim with racks and racks of last season’s designer fashions – most of which still held ridiculous price tags, plus all that scrounging for a deal or a really hot find – ick and overwhelming. It was the same in Men’s Women’s and even the tiny racks of kids clothes. Our only luck was in the shoes where I did find a pair of booties I’d been coveting and stalking on for a sale price. YAY, on sale PLUS 40% off.

Super cute Sam Edelman booties from Saks Off 5th. Get yours here.

Super cute Sam Edelman booties from Saks Off 5th. Get yours here.

After Saks we ventured into the belly of the mall. This is what I have to say about almost every store we visited – the procurement and distribution for these retailers to the MN area is so far off base – it became almost silly. They all need to get together and take note of the fact that a good number of us women are a size 4-12 in the chilly Twin Cities. ALL I was able to find were XXS and XXL (J.Crew Factory Store, I’m talking to you) and size 25 or size 31 denim (you are sadly out of stock in almost all sizes, True Religion, and you are cheaper at Nordstrom Rack). Boo. And these were not the only guilty retailers. I’ve never had an experience like it. Every store. No sizes.

Then the kicker. I had a reason to be there – the Sunglass Hut. I needed replacement rubber nubs for the arms on my sunglasses. We strolled in – everything over priced and then marked down to regular retail to look like it was on sale…

“I’m looking for these, please” I held my glasses out to the teenage gal working there, “They gave me replacements once at the Sunglass Hut in Ridgedale,” I explained. “Oh, we don’t have the kits for replacements here yet. We are too new, I guess,” she said. Too new? Listen, chick, are you new? Wouldn’t one expect the newest stores to have the most stocked repair and replacement kits? “Well, okay, what do you suggest,” I offered her the opportunity to provide excellent customer service and redeem herself. “Well, the Mall has three locations. It’s up the freeway from here. You could try there.” And she walked away to help other customers. Um, ye-aaa-ha.

The children’s stores were crowded and I probably could find better items and better deals at Macy’s or Nordstrom’s, or online, really. Almost all stores gave me tons of trouble trying to manuever with a stroller – isn’t there an OSHA law about three-foot aisleways in retail shopping locations? I smell about a million violations! It’s kind of giving me anxiety writing about it…

Honestly, unless you live down the street and this is the closest thing to a mall near you, I would plan to avoid the hassle, the crowds, the over-priced “discounted” items and the lack of sizes at the Twin Cities Premium Outlets in Eagan. I think I will stick to what I know in outlet shopping, should I catch the fever again, and find what I need always stocked in plenty of “middle” sizes at the Albertville Premium Outlets. For now, Eagan, you are the evil step-sister in outlet malls.

If you decide to venture out there, if you have already, or if you really agree/disagree with my assessment, offer your thoughts in the comments. I promise, no judgement! Maybe you had a better experience and your outlet shopping at it’s finest really was, well, fine!




RUDOLPH Sneak Peek – And a Giveaway!

Snowball Holiday Gala 2014, A fundraiser for Stages Theatre Company

Snowball Holiday Gala 2014, A fundraiser for Stages Theatre Company

I can’t tell you how EXCITED I am to tell you all about an awesome opportunity to support local youth theatre in the Twin Cities. It’s going to be an amazing family event, and I want as many of you as possible to attend. And for those of you wanting to know more about the Giveaway, read on or just head to the bottom of the post!

So, in full disclosure, I am on the Board of Directors at Stages Theatre Company (STC) in Hopkins, MN. I’d don’t benefit personally in any way from this post, but I hope that Stages will…

It’s the 50th Anniversary year of Rudolph, the 1964 claymation cartoon we all remember from childhood, and Stages winter show and Snowball fundraiser is The Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical! Everyone is going to be there, Sam, Santa, Hermey, Rudolph, Yukon Cornelius and all the toys!

Stages is the second largest children’s theatre in the state of Minnesota. STC is located in the Hopkins Center for the Arts right on Mainstreet in downtown Hopkins MN. Every year, in the middle of their show season, STC puts on a winter show and fundraiser. Being a non-profit, it’s important that STC actively seek donations to maintain their ability to bring youth theatre to their patrons, to offer free and reduced fee performances and to make scholarships available to underprivileged youth who wish to participate in their workshops and camps. I think this escapes a lot of people who attend local theatre in general. Until I became involved I was pretty unaware of how theatres, like STC, were funded and all the GOOD they do with the funding they have.

I value youth theatre. I think it’s incredibly important for children to be involved in the arts of all kinds including live theatre, visual and musical/instrumental arts. Involvement in the arts is correlated to better educational outcomes, higher test scores and contributes to the general well-roundedness of an individual.

My children and I enjoy attending performance at STC. The theatre always has youth players involved in every performance – I think it’s pretty cool for kids to see other kids on stage participating in their craft. I know when I was a young I enjoyed both watching and acting in performance. Acting in live theatre provides a creative outlet, it offers commandery and helps to boost self-esteem.

Snowball, the STC winter performance fundraiser, has typically been held in January. But times are changing! With the upcoming Rudolph performances perfectly placed around the holidays, Snowball has been revamped and will be held the afternoon of December 6th, 2014 at 2pm.

Emcee, Emily Engberg from TCL will be in site!

Emcee, Emily Engberg from TCL will be in site!

Attendees are promised a great time! The event includes a performance of Rudolph, crafts provided by The Home Depot, delicious treats, the opportunity to have your family’s holiday photo taken on the set (up on stage and everything!), baby reindeer on the Hopkins’ plaza, an awesome raffle for a change to “fly” over the stage like the actors, and more! Emily Engberg of Twin Cities Live will be the event Emcee – she’s so fun! There are a variety of levels of support for STC when registering for the event all the way from an individual ticket to a full sponsorship. Take a look at the Stages Snowball webpage for more info and to purchase tickets.

And to keep you enticed, take a look at the following snippets of the super ridiculous (and I mean that in a good way) puppets created for Stages, for the show, by the local artisans of the Ridiculous Puppet Company out of Minneapolis.

Do you know which buckaroo and his animal are pictured here?

Do you know which buckaroo and his animal are pictured here?

Cutest puppet foot! Which toy does it belong to?

Cutest puppet foot! Which toy does it belong to?

Cheek complete with rosey-ness!

Cheek complete with rosey-ness!

As for a giveaway…. Eveyone who likes my new Everyday Fabulous MN page on facebook (sorry for the lack of photos on the page, but I’ll ge them up as soon as I can) and shares the link to this blog post, will be entered to win a set of two tickets to Snowball, courtesy of ME!! My treat and your good time!

Thanks to the Snowball corporate sponsors, Great Clips, Loffler, Matreks Printing, Best Buy and Faegre, Benson, Daniels law firm. STC couldn’t continue their mission driven work without the generous support of these corporate Snowball sponsors, it’s individual sponsors and you!

I hope to see many of you on December 6th! I mean, how could you say no to baby reindeer?!



HO! Oh-No…

Yes folks, that is a space heater. Yep. It is.

Yes folks, that is a space heater. Yep. It is.

I love Christmas. I hate disappointment. I hate to disappoint. I hate to disappoint anyone, but I really hate when it’s one of my kids.

It never seems to fail that something goes wrong during vacations or holidays – times when being in good health is necessary or times when a plumber, handyman or HVAC tech costs three times as much as the would on any given normal day. The furnace is on the fritz. Not normal.

This morning while running around the house I noticed that I felt a chill. A quick mental check followed: Feeling fine, not sick. Physical check: What’s the room temp?? Oh dear, 61 degrees and dropping. Remember, its Minnesota in December and it was -5 degrees outside at the time, so I had little to no hope.

I called my father-in-law who has some knowledge of HVAC. He was on my doorstep within twenty-five minutes (thank God). However, knowing me and my slight obsessiveness for well, all things, I had already lit a fire in the fireplace AND scheduled myself a service call with Dean’s Heating and Air Conditioning, just in case.

My awesome raging fire in the fireplace. Nice.

My awesome raging fire in the fireplace. Nice.

Thank you for calling Dean’s where its a great day. This is Heather. How may I help you?

First of all, it’s not a great day for me, Heather. It might be for you, especially if your tech makes it here for a minimum service call fee of $89 (which I did find reasonable, but I did not admit to Heather). Not to mention I assume you would have a fantastic day if you got to sell me a new furnace. Me, not so much. I might be calling back to cancel if we can get this thing working.

We did, and I did. Regrets…

We had very pleasant Christmas Eve celebrations first at my in-laws and then at my parent’s home. Seeing family was fantastic. The food was excellent everywhere, and the tres leches cake from Cafe Latte was totes amazeballs (is that what the under 25 set use these days to describe total greatness?). And everyone was fascinated with Colin’s Christmas wish – you know, the real live hedgehog.

Where do you get one? How big is it? How big does it get? What does it eat? How do you take care of it?

It came from Wildhearts Hedgehogs in southeastern MN. It is small now, but will grow to be about a pound. It eats cat food. For real. And you take care of it by gently playing with it, helping it socialize, bathing it, oh yeah, and by NOT letting its room temp drop below 72 degrees.

Why the 72 degree room temp, you ask? Well, they are desert animals and if their environment gets too cold they begin to enter false hibernation. This has the potential to be lethal to a hedgie. Excellent. This thing won’t be hard to take care of at all. Not at all.

Wouldn’t you know upon arriving home from Christmas eve events the house temp had once again dipped to 63 and was falling. The plan had been to get the boys in bed, play a little Santa and lastly run over to my sisters and retrieve the hog to place under the tree. Well now, that last part definitely can’t happen. How depressing would it be to have Colin open his falsely hibernating hedgehog, not to mention emotionally scarring for a hopeful six-year-old.

Brian worked hard to get the stupid furnace blowing, but we have a bad sensor (a problem previously encountered) and the wrong tools for the job. Brian is certainly skilled at his trade, but mechanical issues are neither his, nor my strong suit. At least he knows what tools would be needed in a given situation. Again, me, not so much. What do you mean you can’t use a regular screw diver (pointy or flat) instead of a socket something or other? Don’t they do the same thing? No? Fine.

The air is still chilly and we have no real way of doing much about it at 1:00am on Christmas. So now I arrive at the potential disappointment of my son when he eagerly runs toward the tree looking for his hedgehog, only to find it’s nowhere in sight. No cage, no wheel, no cat food. Bummer. The hog will have to remain in my sister’s toasty laundry room just a tiny bit longer.

What to do? I thought, searched, and came up with a reasonably decent solution, but we’ll have to see how it passes the sniff test in the morning. A small hedgehog toy, purchased at Pottery Barn Kids – meant for Colin but not in said situation. A box with holes, meant for the hedgehog who is not here. And a note from the Big Guy himself written in my rarely seen and incredibly terrible cursive.

Stuffed replacement player. PBK Hedgehog finger puppet. Not even close to the real thing.

Stuffed replacement player. PBK Hedgehog finger puppet. Not even close to the real thing.

Dear Colin,

Your house was too cold for the hedgehog I brought you so I sent him to Brooks’ house. He is in your aunt Elbee’s laundry room. You can meet him later today!

Merry Christmas


I think this whole situation qualifies as a HO! Oh-No moment in time.

I dread Colin’s reaction although I am sure he will be good-natured and excited to visit his new pet. I also, and more so, dread the call I might have to make in the morning. Thanks for calling Dean’s where it’s a great day.

HO! Oh-No it isn’t, Heather. I thought I told you that yesterday!

Mt. NeverRest – Laundry and Why it Never Ends

I started here tonight - Mt. Never Rest Number One!

I started here tonight – Mt. Never Rest Number One!

So I know I mentioned the never-ending pile of laundry I face on a daily basis. I’ve affectionately named it Mt. NeverRest – because that is exactly its outcome for me. I never get any REST from the silly thing. In fact I am pretty sure I’ve seen it grow completely independent of the dryer cycle’s ending chime. it’s like a Gremlin – and mean, too.

Someone more on top of it than I am might ask, “Why, and how does this pile get SO large?” For me the answer is simple: Uncontrollable wardrobe changes – and they are not mine (insert your surprise here).

You may know that Brian is the owner/operator of a small family owned stone and tile installation business out of the Western suburbs. What this means is that he wears “work clothes” on a daily basis and I don’t mean a suit and tie. His work wear is a mess – thinset and grout encrusted t-shirts and denim which have caused us to go through three dryers since moving into our home (try getting that stuff cleaned out of a dryer drum – I don’t care how many times you take it apart – It won’t fix ANYTHING and you are at Lowes for your next dryer, again). Needless to say he is never in these clothes long after arriving home.

Generally he discards ALL work wear, showers, changes into jeans and a v-neck or t-shirt and goes on with the rest of his evening. But that is not all from Brian, of course at the very end of the night he preps for sleep by changing yet again into jammie pants and/or another t-shirt.

By-the-way, he leaves trails of all his cast off clothing around the house. If I need him quickly and he’s just arrived home, I can usually follow the trail to find him somewhere in the house!

I made progress tonight AND I found the missing iPad!

I made progress tonight AND I found the missing iPad!

As for the boys they attend a school which requires that they wear uniforms. This poses a new laundry issue – all of the shirts need to be washed by color with ONLY uniform shirts or they start to tinge strange colors. Try taking the brand new white shirt from the laundry… Sadly, it’s made its way into Brian’s work wear wash and is now a funky shade of grey. Yuck and darn you Land’s End School Uniforms!

Both of the boys participate in soccer, swimming and skiing. Aiden currently has three different soccer uniforms which need to be washed one to two times per week and returned to his soccer bag or its mayhem trying to get out of the house to a practice on time. Thankfully Colin only has one soccer uniform right now. Not to mention the outerwear – each boy has two sets: One for school which may go missing and will not cause me to have an aneurysm if it does, and one for skiing which I also keep separate for those early mornings trying to get out of the house to lessons – plus I really might keel over if any of this gear is lost (or eaten by my dryer).

Aiden seems to have an uncontrollable need to change his clothes every time his activity changes. Perhaps it’s because he is constantly changing from one uniformed activity to another on a regular basis, but I’m seriously tired of explaining that we don’t need a wardrobe change from Legos to Wii – there is no uniform for either!

Colin is another story. He’s been a “dirty clothes hider” for quite a while now, having had some trouble mastering number two, if you catch my whif, I mean drift… It’s gotten a LOT better lately, but in the past I purchased so many pairs of mini boxer briefs from the GAP I almost questioned acquiring stock in the company over it.

Much better, but it all must be put away and this was only Pile One

Much better, but it all must be put away and this was only Pile One

So what does this all come down to? Follow along for my daily laundry list:

  • A load of Brian’s work clothing (usually destroying at least one article of clothing of mine or the kids if Brian does the wash)
  • A load of general colors or whites
  • A load of towels, dish rags or bed linens (sanitary wash which take 2 hours to run)
  • A load of Uniform Blues for school
  • A load of Uniform Whites or Yellows
  • Other

And then there is all my laundry – NONE of which Brian is allowed to touch. I almost died the time I pulled the cutest little sweater out of the laundry and thought, “This is the absolute sweetest teeny J.Crew sweater, but we don’t have a girl…” OMG My SWEATERRRRRR!!!! 😦

Pile Number Two - OMG I might pass out

Pile Two – Yikes!!

I wash everything of mine separate from the general colors or whites on delicate and hang dry almost each item. It can be daunting, but honestly, it’s so much better than the sinking feeling of seeing that tiny pair of pants or that tiny little sweater emerge from the dryer after a nice hot cycle. Money down the drain and in the trash – literally.

If you can see some way through my sea of darks, lights and whites, I am totally open for suggestions here, people! It’s never-ending. In fact I still have a load in the wash, timed to start around 4am so that it is ready to throw in the dryer when I meander down to the laundry room in a couple of hours.

As for this evenings adventures in conquering Mt. NeverRest; I am happy to say that I made at least two summits, and gladly put away all the neatly folded items as ALL my boys slept soundly (dogs included). YAY for me.

Pile Number Two going down!

Pile Number Two going down!

Sadly, when I felt completely accomplished I walked in to use the bathroom and the photo below is of what I found on the floor – discarded play-wear from the end of Colin’s day. And so the molehill begins to form into another glorious mountain!

Remnants of an evening shower before jammies.

Remnants of an evening shower before jammies.