SCHEEL’S Eden Prairie Grand Opening

Visiting SCHEEL’s Eden Prairie

I was invited to attend a preview event of the grand opening of the new SCHEEL’s store in the Eden Prairie mall. I didn’t know much about the store ahead of time – just that it has a ferris wheel inside. That was enough to lure me out of bed early on a Saturday morning – plus it was a great chance to get outside the house on my own (I had a baby recently)!

Here’s what I wasn’t fully expecting: the scale of this outdoors/sporting goods store. It’s massive, and it really does have a full size ferris wheel inside. More on that later.

The aquarium inside a retail store

As I mentioned, one of the big draws for shoppers and what sets the store apart in the retail sphere is the ferris wheel and also the aquarium. You can see live divers in the aquarium a few days a week in the store. It’s impressively sized and is home to 500 fish:

The SCHEEL’s Ferris Wheel

The other main attraction is in the center of the two-story store – the ferris wheel! It’s not currently operating during COVID times, but eventually it will be open for rides. This is a place I can see taking the whole family – there is something for everyone. Other draws include a cafe and candy shop, a Viking created from 77,000 legos, a golf shop and simulator, a synthetic rink to test hockey skates on, and an interactive archery shop.

Shopping

This sizable store has tons of shopping for the whole family including home decor and outdoors apparel for men, women and kids.

SCHEEL’s Eden Prairie Taxidermy Mountain

I thought I’d seen everything the store had to offer when I discovered the taxidermy mountain on the second level. It has a really impressive display of animals. I’m not really a fan of hunting, but I can see that the display has educational value for learning about local wildlife. I did read that SCHEEL’s gets the animals on loan from local hunters and taxidermy artist. I couldn’t resist getting a photo with the moose.

Planning a visit to SCHEEL’s

SCHEEL’s Eden Prairie is located within the Eden Prairie mall, so there are plenty of amenities nearby if you’re ready to spend a day out. It takes a couple of hours to see the entirety of the store, but if you wanted to just stop in to see the aquarium it would be worth a short visit too!

Vintage Cupboard Makeover

For my new baby girl’s nursery, I used all secondhand furniture. I needed a changing table, and my dad made a generous offer: to remake a vintage, heirloom cupboard into something that could be used as a changing table. The cupboard had sentimental value to my family because it was mine as a child, and before that had been passed down to us from family friends. Affectionately known as “the Bunny Cupboard,” it had been enjoyed by multiple families since the 1960s. We loved the idea of saving the old cupboard instead of buying a new changing table, because otherwise it didn’t have much useful life left. Okay, it probably didn’t have any left – I wish I had a “before” picture. The project saved it from ending up as landfill garbage!

By 2020, it was in poor shape! The decals were almost completely rubbed off, the hinges were broken and rusty, and the faux wood veneer had seen better days. To refurbish it was quite the project, but my dad was up to the task! Using oak wood paneling, he upgraded the exterior. Carefully, he was able to save and re-attach the original bunny emblem to the new cupboard door.

Inside, he painted the drawers yellow for a finishing touch. My mom color matched acrylic paint to fix the chipped blue knobs, making them look brand new. I couldn’t believe it when I saw the finished product. It is not just a hand-me-down now, it’s a real heirloom quality piece. The drawers are perfect for storing cloth diapers and outfits. With a changing pad on top, it makes a great changing table. When she is older, it can be used alone as a dresser. Thanks to the magic of tape, the bunny emblem can even be removed for a more mature appearance.

I asked my dad about the creative process of making the cupboard. “I really enjoyed this project, more than I thought I would,” he said. He said he honored the original design of the cupboard, staying true to the lines of the mid-century piece while completely overhauling it to be better and more beautiful.

The nursery was complete just in time for baby girl’s arrival, so it was time to celebrate. By “celebrate,” I mean go to bed at 8pm, then get woken up at 11pm, 1am, 4 am and 7am. Four hours of sleep is the new eight, you know. But at least we will be sleep deprived parents with a wonderful nursery with its signature one-of-a-kind furniture piece.

 

Online Free Events & Activities to Enjoy at Home

Fun and free online activities and eventsIn the age of social distancing, we’ve seen the amazing power of technology to connect us virtually. Life has certainly changed but hasn’t been cancelled. Fitness classes can be streamed in the comfort of our living rooms, parties can happen over video conferencing platforms and school lessons are delivered online. If there is a silver lining to sheltering in place, it’s the boon of offerings that are brought to our homes—much of the time for free—via the internet. 

To stay busy, I have been streaming barre workouts via Instagram live (check out @barre3edina and @barre3henderson), visiting with people over Zoom, and participating in various free online classes and resources. I’ve compiled some interesting options here – I hope you find something that interests you and helps keep you entertained.

Online resources for kids and adults during shelter in place

Be a sidewalk botanist!

From the Sidewalk Plant Lab website: “If you’re looking for an outdoor activity for yourself, your family, or your students – maybe craving a break from staring at a screen – we’d love you to join the Plant Lab as a Sidewalk Botanist!” Get all the details and info you need in the guides on the site, including lesson plans for K-8 teachers and specialized info for families and adults.

Tune in to a Monterey Bay Aquarium Web Cam

The Monterey Bay Aquarium has ten live cams streaming online. Choose from sharks, sea jellies, sea otters, penguins and more. montereybayaquarium.org/animals/live-cams

Winchester Mystery House Video Tour

Winchester Mystery House is offering a free online video tour of the mansion while the real thing is closed. A history-rich video takes you on a virtual tour of the famous San Jose Historical Landmark. It contains a few references to the supernatural that might spook young viewers, but most of the hour-long content is an engaging history lesson. It’s no substitute for seeing the mansion in person, but even those who have been inside the house before will learn some new facts about it. winchestermysteryhouse.com/video-tour

Virtual Choir and Mother’s Song Circle

A St. Paul mom is hosting a zoom sing-a-long on Thursdays in April. It’s for mothers of all ages and phases of life. Your kids are welcome to sing along! From the Facebook page: “Join us in song! Let’s sing a new song every Thursday in the month of April. Our songs will be short and fun, with simple harmonies. While we won’t be able to hear each other singing (so it’s literally a sing like no one can hear you situation), we can still come together in community, learn a new song, and have some fun!” https://www.facebook.com/mothersandsong/

Virtual Museum Tours 

Through Google Arts and Culture, you can virtually view collections from world renowned museums. From the de Young Museum to Palace of Versailles to Museo Frida Kahlo in Mexico City, fine art is literally at your fingertips. artsandculture.google.com/partner

Explore the Hidden Worlds of the National Parks

Also through Google Arts and Culture, you can virtually visit National Parks from the comfort of your couch. Follow park rangers on a journey to places most people never go. Climb into a glacier crevasse and kayak through icebergs at Kenai Fjords. Go inside Nahuku Lava Tube at Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. Travel 750 feet underground at Carlsbad Caverns. See the brilliant night sky at Bryce Canyon. And finally, complete your virtual National Park bucket list by diving into the pristine waters of Dry Tortugas in Florida. https://artsandculture.withgoogle.com/en-us/national-parks-service

Download Free Coloring Pages

Coloring is soothing and stress relieving. San Francisco based media company Brit + Co is aiming to brighten your day with ten free downloadable coloring pages. The cheerful designs will have people of all ages picking up their coloring pencils. Feel free to color outside the lines! Find them here: brit.co/pattern-play-coloring-pages

East Coast-based retailer Lilly Pulitzer is getting in on the coloring page game too. Their four detailed pages feature the instructions “Print me. Color me. Hang me up in your window to #bethesunshine to your neighbors.” Bonus: there are free zoom backgrounds and mother’s day cards to download too. lillypulitzer.com/resort365

Online Tutorials from Palo Alto Art Center

My favorite art center is offering free virtual classes that allow patrons to engage in a myriad of artmaking activities. Drawing, collage, sculpting, Chinese brush painting and crazy hair tutorials are available online. Find links at cityofpaloalto.org/gov/depts/csd/artcenter

Bedtime Stories with Dolly Parton

Dolly Parton announced on her Facebook page that she will begin reading stories for children every Thursday night at 7pm. The “Goodnight With Dolly” web series features Dolly Parton reading Imagination Library books all carefully chosen for their appropriate content at this moment in time. The story time event is scheduled through June 4th and takes place via Facebook Live. You can view the schedule on Facebook as well. facebook.com/dollysimaginationlibrary

Drawing Lessons with Ed Vere

London artist Ed Vere is a New York Times bestselling writer and illustrator of picture books. Every Wednesday and Friday he will share a new “how to draw” lesson via video on his website. So far he’s taught viewers how to draw a lion, a monster and more. The videos remain available on his website after they’re shared so you can go back and catch up on previous lessons. View past lessons online at edvere.com

Take Flight from Home

Access the cockpits and interiors of the Museum of Flight’s aircraft at your leisure. These 3D self-guided virtual tours and 360° Panoramas bring Seattle’s aerospace museum experience to you virtually. museumofflight.org

Have something to add to the list? Comment below or message me on Instagram.

Fun and free online activities and events

 

$100 Dinnerware Upgrade from the Thrift Store

This guest post is by my friend Julie, who shares her creative idea for replacing her dinnerware on a budget below. Welcome Julie Hoffman to the blog!

When my husband and I got married, we combined all of our kitchen goods. We kept what we liked and donated the rest. We both had an affinity for Corelle dinnerware and serving ware, from previous positive experience with the durability of Corelle. Our home is an open style loft condo in a historic building, with wood floors over 1880s brick. Whenever we would drop a plate or bowl, the dish would shatter into a million pieces, shooting out in a ten foot radius and making it dangerous for anyone or the kitty to walk nearby. We couldn’t be sure if it was our floors, the Corelle was from an outlet or some other reason we kept having trouble.

After the final butter, corn and bowl explosion, I was fed up and ready for a change.  We set a budget of $100 for a new set and I started looking. After two weeks of checking Craigslist, thrifting and web searching, I realized that our budget was too low to acquire what we wanted.  We wanted a quality, complete set for 8 that was microwave and oven safe. Quality new sets were close to $300 and quality used matching sets were always incomplete. In the third week of being frustrated, I came up with an idea that my husband agreed to.  

The new parameters of the search:

  1. Mismatched plates and bowls, but fitting a theme
  2. Same measurements as our previous plates
  3. Microwave and oven safe
  4. Gently used or new
  5. Not glass or stoneware.

I kicked off a new search to great success! I made sure to carry a measuring tape and a list of preferred plate and bowl measurements in my wallet, as well as a checklist of how many I already had at home. I wanted 8 dessert plates, 8 salad plates, 8 dinner plates and 8 bowls. Here are my findings:  

These first plates remain one of my favorites. Clearly labeled microwave safe. Johnson Brothers designed dinnerware continue to fall within my tastes. They have an extraordinary history of successful china production, even merging with the Wedgwood Group, but later closing in 2003. What a shame! My husband called these “happy-inducing!”

This bowl seems to be serving ware with another purpose, but is fantastic for soup and putting crackers on the edge.

Here are other plates I picked up that fit within the theme:

I found these at an antique shop, but at $6 a plate, these ate up my budget quickly.This one doesn’t seem to “go” with all the rest, so it may be replaced.

After a month of regular thrifting, Goodwill employees would ask me if I had any coupons every time I checked out, which I didn’t understand. Staffers told me that whenever someone donates to Goodwill, the receipt for your donation included a coupon for 50% off one item! I had been bagging up all of my plates as they were replaced in preparation for donating them.  I starting bringing at least a bag or two of donations whenever I would go to Goodwill to acquire a coupon. (The coupon requires you to at least donate a full grocery bags’s worth of items in order to receive a coupon.) This coupon really helped us stick to our budget, because I did make a few “happy mistakes” along the way.  

I picked these up, packaged four for $8 and paid $4 with the coupon.  All plates with gold, silver or platinum on them are not microwave safe.  When I brought these home, I was dismayed to learn that the gold glaze (which I thought was just a pretty paint) made them not microwave safe.  These Spode plates are so pretty they are still at home and being used, just not in the microwave.

These are also vintage Johnson Brothers, but it is not clear due to age and labeling whether they are microwave safe.  I brought these home when I coming down with a cold and didn’t know it yet, so maybe I wasn’t thinking clearly!!
After 2.5 months of thrifting when I have the time, the dinnerware upgrade is mostly complete! We had a few serving pieces made from Corelle that I also replaced. All of these are vintage and not microwave-safe, since we don’t use our serving-ware for reheating/storage.  They are divine!

I found these mugs to go with everything else and they are perfect for tea or hot chocolate!  The tall one is “Pioneer Woman” branded.Even the kitty got a dining upgrade! This one has 22kt gold on it and makes me happy to look at it twice a day when I feed him!  (I don’t think he cares one way or another, but my experience is better!)

We stayed close to budget, making the full set complete for $110.  Our previous cabinet plate shelves were old and weakened hand-me-downs, so we did splurge for strong chrome dinner plate shelves from the Container Store.  This added a cost to the project of $40. I did look at thrift stores for those, but did not find anything strong enough. I’ve struggled to find bowls that match the theme, so have purchased just plain white ones for now and the two floral ones you see here.

The BEST PART of this project is the happiness upgrade in the kitchen!!  When I originally started this, I thought it would be a time-consuming and difficult project that would just yield a functional kitchen.  I had NO IDEA how awesome it could be! It is so wonderful to pick out a place setting for your meal based on your mood and what plates you feel like eating off of.  My husband LOVES our new dinnerware and feels the same way that I do! Before embarking on this project I researched the idea of mismatched plates and remember a blogger saying they feel “fancy, but not formal” and that “you deserve nice things!” She was right!  

Update: Everyone in our extended family has had a tough year and the usual people did not feel like cooking a Thanksgiving meal this year. We volunteered to cook a meal for everyone. You know what that meant? A wonderful excuse to offer a great meal to our loved ones. For the past year, I’ve walked past a gold-rimmed set (not microwave safe!!) in a thrift store that I thought was divine but had no use for. I brought my husband to the thrift store to look at them to see if he would like to treat our family to a formal event with these or a fancy event with our every day ones. He loved these and thought it would be a special treat for our family. The thrift store had priced it at $175 for the full complete set of 12. This set never sold was now priced by the piece. We got the complete set for $50! We added two gravy boats to the set, a vintage gold-rimmed boat ($0.99!) for just this meal (one for each end of the table) and a tall white Wedgwood boat and plate (microwave safe and $4!) for our regular use. We will be using his grandmother’s vintage silverware and vintage napkins at the meal.  His grandmother had pink rose décor in her apartment, so here’s hoping we properly honor her memory this year! Wishing abundance and prosperity to you and yours this holiday season!


 

 

Have an Eco-Friendly Halloween

Like many holidays, Halloween can generate unnecessary waste as well as merriment. From pumpkin carving to party throwing, there are opportunities to make the amount of waste less frightful. With these eco-friendly Halloween ideas, October 31 doesn’t have to be scary for the Earth.

Hand out zero waste, ethical chocolate 

Individually wrapped candy creates a lot of waste, but some options are better than others. A personal favorite is the Alter-Eco brand of chocolate truffles that come in a compostable wrapper. Pro tip: you’ll want to buy extra for yourself! The brand gets an “A” grade on Green America’s chocolate scorecard.

A growing concern for consumers this Halloween season is chocolate that’s farmed with child labor. Slave Free Chocolate has a list of child labor free brands.

In response to the concern over slave labor, many people are handing out toys and trinkets instead. These are often plastic items that will end up as trash. If you go this route, consider usable items such as pencils or erasers or other plastic-free offerings.

Make toasted pumpkin seeds

The slop that’s left over from pumpkin carving is edible when the seeds are separated and toasted to crunchy perfection. Methods for this vary, but the main idea is to rinse off the scooped-out pumpkin “guts” in a sieve and then place them in a single layer on a baking sheet covered in parchment paper. Season with salt, soy sauce, or your choice of spices and bake until crispy. It’s a packaging-free snack that’s right at home with the fall season.

Repurpose an old costume

The temptation to buy a brand new costume each year is real, but there are alternatives that are more eco-friendly—and unique. Consider shopping at thrift shops and vintage stores for one-of-a-kind costume pieces. If you prefer to buy new, support a small business by buying a custom piece from Etsy.

(Check out easy DIY costumes here.)

Be party savvy

When hosting a party, consider reusable plates and silverware in lieu of plastic. If single use is more your thing, bamboo ware is eco-friendly as well as aesthetically pleasing. And remember that bamboo ware, paper plates and napkins can all be composted for easy cleanup.

Compost your pumpkin

When the Jack-o’-lantern has seen better days, remember to chuck it in the green bin or compost pile instead of the trash. Another cleanup tip: if you don’t plan to store your decorations from year to year, thrift shops will be happy to divert your decorations from the landfill right into their store.