Saturday, October 31, 2020

Journey to 100 Parks #8 - Oberlin Park - Minnetonka, MN

The snow has melted and the cold temps have begun to mild a bit, so we ventured out to a new park.  This is our first stop in Minnetonka.  We chose this park because it is close to an errand we planned to run and it was near some friends we might be meeting.  This was by far our longest session at just over 90 minutes.  It really warmed up as the morning went on, which was a nice change.  This park is HUGE!  Almost too big to get in a single picture.  We had it almost to ourselves as well, which the cooler weather likely helped with.
Fey Features
This was our first Little Tikes structure which offered some fun new things.  
Esme is starting to gain more confidence with each visit as well.  Her biggest hurdle now is wearing gloves which make it harder to grip things.
This was the first park that did not have a wheel for Parker to spin, but he did not seem to mind and spent most of the morning on the tire swing.  I was also really impressed at how easily he climbed up and down the matrix web.
Our friends joined us a bit later in the morning.  Miggy and Esme haven't seen each other since March.  It was so fun to watch them play and catch up with his mom, Lindsay.
This is our first 9 swing park.  So many options for hours of fun.  The only reason I am not giving it 10 is because I think there could have been some more accessible options, especially with the large footprint.

Herrmanno's Macaroni Grill - Date Night

We haven't been able to get wild with our date nights since March, but I am looking to get a bit more creative with the weather getting cooler and no signs of this pandemic ending.  On our last date night, Jimmy mentioned he wanted to get Italian the next time around.  Instead of takeout, I decided to recreate my favorite fall restaurant meal.  I used to stalk Macaroni Grill's menu each October waiting for Butternut Tortellacci to appear.  I would get it at least a couple times before it left the menu.  The last Macaroni Grill closed in Minnesota over 5 years ago.  The closest ones now are a 13 hour drive or post-pandemic layover in Chicago (O'Hare Airport location is closed currently.)
As we got closer to the day, I kept thinking of more ways to replicate the Macaroni Grill experience.  I used my chalkboard to create a menu for Herrmanno's (instead of Romano's) Macaroni Grill.
I also  used the back side of some yellow wrapping paper for us to draw on like they have at the restaurant.  Since I've already been making bread, I looked up a recipe for Rosemary bread and served it with some seasoned olive oil for dipping. As soon as I took my first bite of bread I was transported there.
Tortellacci is just a really big tortellini, so my dish had a 4 cheese tortellini, alfredo sauce, roasted butternut squash, bacon, and pepitas (pumpkin seeds), and parmesan.  I paired it with a bottle of wine we've had for a while.  I think I bought it at a local store, but it's from a vineyard that our friends were married at back in 2014.  It was such a fun way to have a date night in.  I may try to recreate some other restaurant faves in the future since it's looking like we may have a long winter ahead.

Monday, October 26, 2020

Candy Land Drive-Thru Halloween

We usually get to go all out for Halloween, but COVID makes it a bit different this year.  To be honest, I didn't want to waste my great idea on this buzzkill of a year, but I didn't want to just ignore it either.  Esme has been really in to Peppa Pig lately, so we are going at the Family Pig.  I am keeping my homemade costume streak alive and in a pretty cheap way.  Solid t-shirts for the tops and pink hats from Dollar Tree.  I ass embellishments with felt I already had on hand and we're ready.
In lieu of our church's traditional trunk or treat event, they hosted a drive thru one on Saturday.  I masked up since I would be on the side where the candy was coming and we had a blast.  
The event was Candy Land themed complete with characters right from the game.  Ms. Mint welcomed us with peppermints.
Queen Kandy and Lord Licorice gave us a bag for our haul.  We proceeded through different stations where they delivered treats through tubes and sometimes just threw it in the car like a parade. Parker and Esme thought it was so funny.  Parker wanted to try every candy that ended up in his lap, but he really only likes suckers, M & M's, and plain chocolate.  It was also nice to see so many friends we haven't seen in a while.  Our church is doing in person service on Sundays, but there is no kids programming and we aren't really ready to be back either.
Esme insisted on carrying the bag in from the car when we got home.
She proceeded to dump it out on the table and said "this is enough candy."  Yes, it is (but not according to grandpa Buxton).  I then proceeded to sort it by variety, which was always my favorite thing to do as a kid.  It would just get thrown right back in the back, but inventory was the second best part of Halloween.
We plan to have a pretty relaxed holiday on Saturday, but will find a way to have more festive fun.  What are you doing this year?