I’m Jenn, a suburban mom of 2 wonderful kids. I have an amazingly supportive husband at home. I don’t really consider myself as someone that has a green thumb but I like to try each year. I love to cook and make things from scratch. Most weekends, you’ll find me traveling around my state. If your interested in those adventures, check out daytripper28.com. Most recently, I’ve decided to change up the way my family eats. Interested in making the change? Follow me on this adventure and see what it’s like.

An Adult in a Candy Store

What’s better than being a kid in a candy store? An Adult! 20150913_100517Be warned if you venture to this road side stop, bring cash and lots of it. Not because things cost a lot of money, but because you will soon finding yourself filling up your basket with all the candies that you haven’t seen since you were a kid… and oh yeah, they don’t take any forms of plastic.

You can find anything from Zombie Blood bags, to Candy Cigarets, to Taffy, to the best smelling home made pies, to bacon flavored everything. They have  a huge selection of flavored soda pops as well as any flavor licorice. Giant gum ball machines and popcorns. You name it, they probably have it. Currently they have some of the cheapest pumpkins I’ve found in the cities. They wanted $3.95 a pumpkin, any size.

20150913_095943They are officially known as ‘Jims Apple Farm’. They are open June through November. The store  is supported by it’s community, caring a variety of canned goods made by them. They do not have a phone, or a website. In order to stay with the times, one of their kids created a Facebook page to keep in touch with the community.

20150913_094211They haven’t been a candy store for that long either. It wasn’t until 2005 and 2006 when the orchard had some really bad hail storms that damaged their crops. They started to sell come candies to make up for some of their loss. Somehow the business just grew from there. Every time I go in there is seems that they have increased the size and variety of fun things. If you plan on heading south on 169, it’s worth a trip… and oh yeah.. try to go early. Any time after 11 an it may be hard to get through the isles.

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An Apple A Day…

We started off our journey doing what any good apple hunter would do… research. We have been to a few apple orchards around the cities and for some reason they never are what I’m looking for. They are usually overly commercialized with activities for the kids. After their $5 per person admission you can take their tractor rides for another $5 and ride a pony for another $5. It’s just not what I was looking for. We looked at Kare11’s Top Orchards list voted on by the Twin Cities viewers. We picked the top one. The sight looked great, just what we were looking for. We drove around 50 minutes there and got to the store to find out that do not let you pick your own. They even had the orchards gated off to visitors too… They had a great store and bakery but lacked the experience we were looking for.   We’ll lets get out the map and see if there are any other orchards close by…  20150920_104207

We realized we were right next to Stillwater’s Aamodts Apple Farm. This time I got smart, and called to confirm we could pick our own before leaving. So off we went, another 15 minutes to the next orchard. This one was just what we were looking for. A 10lb bag of apples was $15. They also sold a 4lb bag for $5 for those less committed to their apple consumption. We got our two bags and were off to the orchard. No need to pay admission! No bells or whistles, just an old fashion apple farm.20150920_104147My daughter became an expert picker by the end of it. She found us a great tree that had not been picked over yet. She was pulling apples like a pro, making sure to not take the buggy ones. My son even got into it, even though he couldn’t hold an apple with one hand. I didn’t realize how important that was in the picking process. He still had a great time. After filling our car with apples, we decided to check out the store. They had a  lot of baked goods and butters. I really wanted to try their apple syrup, but I figured that we had plenty of sweets at home already. If we didn’t have them, we certainly will by the time all the baking is done.


By the end of the day, with a little a bit of my daughters help, I have 6 different pull-apart loafs of bread. I think tomorrow… I may move on to Apple Cinnamon Scones, then Apple Pie Bars… maybe some Apple Cookies? Does this Apple A Day rule count if it’s covered in carmel or baked into something sweet? Maybe this trip was a bad idea.  20150920_175822

Apple Cinnamon Pull Apart Loaf –

Bread –

3 medium Apples, pealed and diced

3/4 cup of Brown Sugar

2 teaspoon of Cinnamon

Drizzle of Molasses

2 containers of Pillsbury Ready Made Biscuits

Icing –

1 cup Powdered Sugar

1/2 teaspoon Vanilla

1-3 teaspoon Water.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix Apples, Brown Sugar and Cinnamon together in a large mixing bowl. Drizzle on Molasses so it’s lightly covered when tossed. It has a strong taste so don’t go overboard. Layout your dough on a cutting board. Using a pizza cutter make each of the preformed biscuits into cubes. It’s doesn’t have to be perfect. Separate into 2 -3 loaf pans. I used 3 foil ones from the dollar store. Bake for 50 minutes.

Once out of the oven and slightly cooled, combined icing ingredients. Start adding water a teaspoon at a time until the icing can drip off a fork easily. Then put on as much or as little as you want. It’s best served warm. My husband and I both agreed that some whip cream or ice-cream would be a nice complement for a desert.

Come One, Come All… It’s the Festival of Fools

For some reason I have always been in love with the English Monarchy and Henry the Eights reign. I think that is why I love going to the Renaissance Festival each year. It’s located a short distance from me in Shakopee. This year, my husband and I decided to change things up a little. We got a sitter for the kids and each took one of our parents.

We have brought the kids for the past couple years and really wanted a break from ‘dragging’ the stroller this time. When I say drag, I mean it to. The terrain there is not stroller friendly. It had been raining the 2 days prior so everything today was muddy. We also found that the break from the rain brought out the crowds too. There were more people then I’ve ever seen there before. The crowds were making us feel antsy being there, I couldn’t imagine having the kids as well.

I like to think of it as an Island of Renaissance because in just about every direction there are giant mining holes in the ground or what people at the festival call, the moat building. For all those that don’t want to walk through the hmm dried up Moat, feel free to take the shuttle. Either way, there is a lot of fun that awaits you inside.

Dressing the part, completely your choice. I have the clothes but have never had the courage to go dressed up. I think if I could convince my husband to, I totally would. I just don’t want to be the only one waring it. I’ve seen a lot of good looks out there and some not so good looks. In an effort to not get picked on to much, my husband and I stuck with plain earth tones, to try and blend in. We learned this when my sister decided to go there with a hoodie one year that says ‘Freak’ on the back.  She soon regretted it. Now, if you want the attention, by all means, go for it. Try dying your hair blue first too and see what happens. 🙂

20150919_114411Since my husband and I were both bringing out parents we ended up just meeting there. My dad and I are all about the shows. We started off with The Danger Committee. They are always good and since it was the first show of the day we got to see more of their setup. With all the rain the day before it make for a few more slip ups than normal. Thankfully no one got hurt.  They put on a good balance of juggling, knife throwing, fire and whips. Defiantly worth getting our b20150919_112058utts wet on the seats for.

I’m not sure what it is about all the new technology, but leave your tablets at home people. I know that it’s super cool to be able to take a video on it, but do you realize how ridiculous you look?


After the show we worked our way over to my husband and mother-in-law. She had not been to the festival in a good 15 or more years. According to her it was before they had buildings there, just tents setup. We ran into the King and Queen on the way over which was kinda fun since I’ve never seen them wandering around before. We tried to get a quick picture without seeming to obvious or getting in trouble by their guard. Ok I don’t think we would have gotten in trouble, but I’m not sure how serious they take things in the make believe land.

We made our way to the other end of the festival dodging the many mud puddles.  We finally found them at the Johnny Phoenix show.  Now if you’ve seen him before, you know they have a lot of innuendo in the show. So I decided it would probably be more fun to watch my mother-in-law to see what she would think. I could see the smirk building. And after a few minutes, they broke her. It was a full on laughing at the jokes. It was then she realized why we didn’t want to bring the kids. While I’m sure they wouldn’t have gotten the jokes, they would have had questions on the way home.


After seeing a few shows, we figured we should probably get something to eat. When I first started to go to the Ren Fest, food was always a nightmare….  There specialty is always the Turkey Leg and I was a vegetarian at the time. Thanks to a couple pregnancies later, I have now embraced the carnivorous lifestyle everywhere, but here… If you take a look at the lines, the Turkey Leg is probably about a 15-30 minute wait. Anything that included veggies in the title, you could walk right up. I think I may have out eaten my husband this time.

The same would go for the Beer and Wine lines vs the Soda lines. I was smart and got my wine during a show early in the day. It was not worth it by the time the lunch hour hits. And if your thinking it’s just the lunch hour that causes the lines, you would be wrong. They were still just as long at 3pm. We have never experienced lines like these before. We managed to go on a day where the weather was perfect and it’s was Irish Themed. Both things I love, be so does the rest of the Twin Cities. It was a fluke.

20150919_131247It was about this time, that my husband and mother-in-law decided that they wanted to do some shopping. My dad and I wanted to get in a few more shows first. We found a new one, MooNiE the Magnif’CentHe essentially is just miming everything, but it really entertaining. It helps when you get some good crowd participation. He did talk a little at the end. The thing I loved about it, was at the end, he said that if you can spare a couple dollars thats great. If not, that’s ok too. It seemed so sincere. Most of the entertainers do their pitch and try throw a little guilt on you too. His guilt free method worked on me and I went out of my way to tip this guy. They make their living off of these shows and I’m not sure if they make money in addition to their tips or not. 20150919_141422

 Knowing how the shows work, we made sure to get to the Washing Well Wenches show at least 5 minutes early. I personally feel that some of their best entreatment is when they try to build the crowd. They did not disappoint.  We decided to sit in row 5. It was not our best decision. Their warm up happend mostly behind us, so we had to strain our necks to see it. My dad was wearing a bright red shirt, so he got called out early on and got to participate from the audience a little. Without giving it all away he decided to tell them that they did not do a good enough job cleaning the sample they showed him. They rewashed in front of everyone a let him inspect their work. The crowed in front of him parted along with myself as they hurdled the wet garment at him. They should also put a warning out to everyone that those seats are also a slash zone. Not quite splash as in the kind at Seaworld, but the kind where they sprinkle water at the crowd. Depending on your phones sensitivity to water, you might want to watch out.


While my Dad and I were being entertained, my husband was off buying cigars and shopping. He managed to buy gifts for the kids and a nice hair clip for me. It was waiting for me when I got home. Looking back at it, I can’t believe that he went shopping by himself. This is the same guy that I have to drag to the mall to buy some new sox. Maybe the RenFest changes you. Men… be warned of this effect.

20150919_151308With the crowds as crazy as they were and us having so much fun at the shows, we didn’t even make it to the realm that’s devoted to kids activities. That includes the games, the ferries wing forest and mermaid cove. We didn’t get to see the joist tournament or really much of the Irish themed things. But we did stumble onto the King and Queen knighting ceremony. It’s just for kids but it’s going to be something we will definitely check out when we bring them next time.  I couldn’t believe that we saw the King and Queen twice in one visit. Ok… kinda nerding out. 


For anyone interested in going still this year, the Festival started over Labor Day weekend and goes until October 4th. You can usually find good deals on tickets all over the place. I don’t ever recommend paying full price at the door. Everyone is welcome, even your K9 friends.


Lessons Learned Over Time:

Getting there when the gates open sounds great, until you realize that most of the Food vendors and stage performances are not open yet. Getting there an hour after gates open, and you fight the crowds. Try and find a happy middle ground because I haven’t figured it out yet.

Just as a heads up… they are still around this year. 20150919_104256Every time we go, we hear the story, this is their last year. They are being forced to move. It’s not the case. From what I have read, it will not be until 2017 before they will be forced to relocate. The good news is they are planning on staying close to the cities if possible.

Seeing as though once you get past the front gates, you have just traveled back in time, they don’t except plastic at food stands. They do have plenty of ATMs there for you if you need more cash. Most non-food merchants will take a credit card.

If you are bringing kids with you and don’t want to get haggled… either buy or bring them Fairy Wings and/or a Sward immediately.

If you like to go once a year, try to rotate the shows if possible. Otherwise you’ll basically see something similar each time, with a slight variation based on the crowd participation. And oh yeah, never volunteer for anything there. Unless you want to humiliate yourself! 🙂

Giants and Germans

My daughter has been saying for the longest time that she sees a giant in the trees whenever we are on a trip. I figured that this was a great time to actually show her a giant. The Jolly Green Giant is located in Blue Earth, MN. It’s definitely a trek from the cities but was fun. They have a festival once a year and their history museum and gift shop is open Monday-Friday. Of course we didn’t let that stop us. The town is not that big so we made it more of a road side attraction.

The giant was built in 1978 with the help of one creative business man. When he heard that the new highway was going to bypass his town, he knew they needed to do something special to bring people in. The Green Giant canning company has changed ownership a few times and some considered the statue orphaned but I think that Blue Earth adopted it.

When we first told my daughter about the Giant, I could see the fear roll over her face. A real giant? Once she found out it was “Jolly”, oh and just a statue, she was all for it. As we pull up we noticed a few people hanging out. They looked like they were just hanging out a the local DQ and wondered over. We figured we were the only crazy one excited to see it. My daughter was so excited that she got to climb up to its feet. They had a nice picnic area so we brought out our lunch. Then we started to noticed others pull up to get pics. It was funny to see the people trying to nonchalantly try to take pictures from their car. The way I look at it, have no shame. If your going to stop the car, get out and get into the spirit. By the time we left, both of my kids had made a new best friend with the statue.

20150913_120511 20150913_115501Next up, the town of New Ulm.

Hermann the German statue. Based on the legend of Hermann, a German warrior that defended the tribes against the invading Romans in September 9AD. When german settlers came to New Ulm, they constructed a statue of him high above the city to guard over all the residents. It cost $2.25 for anyone over 5 yrs old to enter. Climbing it will give you a great view of the city if you have the nerve to climb all the way to the top of the winding staircase.

You do have to be a steady enough individual to get up past the dome level. Even then it was a little scary to carry a toddler to that level. I would not take one all the way to the top. My daughter and husband braved the top level first. I was very impressed with her bravery. By the time I got up there, I took a quick walk around the base making the smaller children visiting stand next to the edge while I squeezed by them and got down quickly. My husband was able to some pictures, not sure how. I never thought I had a problem with heights. It must be something about growing older….

20150913_13234720150913_13280020150913_133630After checking out Hermnann we wanted to kill some time before seeing one of the scheduled Glockenspiel performances. According the book there was a nice sausage factory that we thought was fun… After a 20 minute search we decided to call  for directions only to find out that the line was disconnected. We thought the cuckoo clock store might be fun…. Closed on Sunday’s… Music hall of fame… Appeared to be closes Sunday… Bars, Open! Oh Germans. The main drag of Minnesota Street looks like it would be fun, on a Saturday or if you are drinkers. I think it would be better to check out the town during one of their monthly festivals they host. It might be more lively.

Brown County Historical Society

20150913_144322The Glockenspiel was fun. Defiantly a one of a kind thing to see. It’s one of only a few freestanding clock towers like this in the world. They have scheduled performances at noon, 3 and 5. They started about 2 minutes early and lasted for about 5 minutes. Once it starts, they have a door that opens up underneath the polka players with dancers. Be warned, it’s loud. 20150913_145916

Fall Fun

We decided to do more of an evening adventure to start the weekend off. We heard that the Severs Corn Maze just opened up in Shakopee, MN. It’s a short drive to the South West Metro. We picked the kids up from day care and headed off with our tickets purchased on the their webpage.  It’s a $1 cheaper online an depending on the day you go it could save you a huge wait in line to purchase ticket there.


As you pull in to the grounds of Canterbury Park, you start to wonder if you in the right place… and then you see the corn. They have a great patch out front with all kinds of gourds to check out. Just as a heads up, they charge by pound for their pumpkins.

They have a lot to do there for every age group, from the huge pit of corn, to a zip line, to an exotic animal petting zoo. The nice thing about the place it that most everything is included in the cost for admiton. They do charge for a few things, like pony rides and the giant slide. But there is more than enough things to do without you having to tell your kids no.

We started at one of our favorite spots, the corn pit. There are two different corn pits. A kid zone and an extreme area equipped with roaps to swing off of into the corn. Trust me it was very tempting not to ditch the kids and give it a try. We opted to stay in kid zone. Since it was the first day it was open, we probably got a little more dusty that normal and we had some fun trying to level out the pit form the mounds they looked to have just filled up. We took their reminders seriously and made sure to empty our pockets of anything valuable and removed our rings. It seems every time we enter something like this, we hear someone saying ‘OMG I lost my ??? in the corn”.

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The Big Maze was fun, but still a little to much for the kids. They have signs posted along the way with fun facts on Fire Trucks, the theme for this year. The kids had a good time trudging along. My daughter was a little reluctant to try and navigate so we took it as an opportunity to work on our ‘Left’ and ‘Right’ directions. I think we got to letter J before giving up. If you complete the entire maze and find all the marked signs, you can get entered into a drawing. After completing the big maze, they both saw the straw bale maze. It was defiantly more their style. It was a bit of a challenge for them both.



They have by far one of the best Bird Rooms I have ever been in. They are all very friendly. Not only were the birds friendly, but so was the staff. They sell food sticks for $1 to help attract the birds. In our case it was not necessary at all. It was almost scary when you purchased them because every bird fought to get on your hand. It was a little overwhelming. Do not give to your children! Maybe if the room was filled with people feeding it would not have been so crazy. The cool thing about the birds is that they would come up to you regardless if you had food. The staff was even nice enough to help our daughter get birds on her arms. Be careful where you step. A lot of them were hiding in the grass.

In addition to the Birds, they also had a nice Exotic Animal petting zoo. It was the first time I actually saw a Kangaroo Jumping. The animals were all pretty active and friendly. They offered food if you wanted to feed them. 20150911_185541

One of the new things that they build this year was a zip line. They have both a smaller one for kids and a grown up one. Both have a seat to sit on so you don’t have to worry about being able to support your weight with your arms. While it may not be a concern for some, I don’t trust my 4 year olds ability. The staff was great and ran with her the whole way so I had no concerns of her slipping off.

We ended up stay close to dark so we didn’t have the opportunity to see the Pig Races or the Monkey show. They defiantly sounds like fun. If you are planning on going in the evening, the latest they will let you in is 1.5hrs before closing and the latest they will let you into the maze it 30 mins before close. Also if your going into the Maze after 7pm, they recommend that you bring a flash light.

Root River Trail Cities

Ever since I was a kid, my family has always been a big fan of the Root River Trail. They have an amazing bike path. We will make special camping trips just to go biking and float down the river. This is the first time that we took a trip down there to check out all the little towns along the way.

First stop, the town of Harmony, MN and Niagara Cave. We had just gone camping a couple days before in 90 degree weather and figured the 48 degree constant temperatures of the cave would be a good break. I’m glad that we brought our coats, because you definitely needed them. Down in this area of the state they also have Mystic Cave. It requires a reservation ahead of time and is handicap accessible. According to the some
reviews it’s a lot less commercial, probably because it’s state run. But the nice thing about Niagra Cave is they have a giant waterfall running through it, which my daughter lCave1ved
Having not been in a cave in since I was a kid, I was probably more excited then my daughter. They have a bunch of fossils along the edges that they point
out. The place has plenty of railing on all stairs. Even though there was water dripping down or ‘Cave Kisses’ as they call it, I never felt unsafe. There were great formations that they have lit up for you. They didn’t have as many of the classic stalactites/stalagmite that I anticipated but still was pretty cool.

Cave2Expect to pay $14 for adults and $8 for 4+ to enter. Tours leave every 15 mins. Or on very hot days during the summer they may leave every 10 mins but you could be waiting up to an hour to get in. Remember that every step you go down, you have to go back up. So if you are caring say a 20lb toddler with you, you will probably be out of breath by the time you get to the surface again.
They have miniature golf out front as well as a place that kids can pan for gems and fossils. It costs anywhere from $5 – $10 for a bag of sediment that they can pan though.

PanningHarmony is also known for its Amish tours. I’m sure that you could probably do your own by driving some back roads, but it wouldn’t be as informative. They had a roadside shop where my husband and I fell in love some of their furniture. We will probably be going back to get our new Kitchen table in a few years!


LanesboroNext up, Lanesboro. It about a 10 minute drive from highway 52 and its totally worth the drive. They have a downtown to hang out in. Most bikers enjoying the Root River Trail experience this and on a summer weekend, it gets a little crazy there. The kids were asleep by this time we got there so we couldn’t get out to check out much of the stores. I did stop at the Barn Sale a the end of the street. It’s was leaning more towards ‘Flea Market’ but had some fun things to look at.

They have a lot of bed and breakfast that I would love to
stay at. They also have many water adventure outfitters if you wanted to go down the river. I think most of them include pickup from the river as well. We could have spend the whole day there if we wanted. For more info… check out www.lanesboro.com

Chatfield is another small town along the way but with the exception of a great play place. We would drive by this one all the time and I would look through the passenger window in wonder. It was so fun to actually be able to stop with my kids. The Tot Town was by far my favorite. Great way to let your kids get out some road trip energy without having to go off the batten path.



Rochester is world famous for its May Clinic. CornThey have a lot of history in this town that we will probably go back for on a separate trip. We defiantly wanted to go to the Learning Barn just outside of town, but just ran out of time. We did make sure to hunt down the elusive Ear of Corn water tower. It was on a lot of the Road Side books so we couldn’t resist. The only problem was everything said it could be seen off of Hwy 63 and Hwy 14. They don’t tell you that Hwy 14 has an east and west exit that are a mile apart. The exact location is on the intersection of 12th St SE and 3rd Ave SE. You can view this ear of corn anywhere on the block.

We probably left the cities around 9am and made it back around 5pm, so this was one of our longest trips so far. The nice thing was we found plenty of stops for the kids along the way so they didn’t get to antsy. We are learning new things each time though and having a lot of fun.


  1. Cave pictures are not as easy as I thought to take.
  2. Mystic cave has bats.
  3. The bridge connecting the Root River Trail to Lanesboro is currently under major construction and may be being rebuilt. Check before biking the trail to see if it’s open.
  4. Fountain is known as the Sink Hole Capital of the World. At the start of the bike trail, there is an overlook that shows a sinkhole that’s 1/2 mile wide.
  5. It may be fun to go to Whalan during their Stand Still Parade. The running joke is that the town is so small, the onlookers just walk so the parade doesn’t have to leave the town. It is scheduled for May 16th, 2016.
  6. All the towns have so much character and hidden gems, you can’t do it all in just one trip. If you really want to see it, you may want to spend the night.


We had a day off this week without the kids and decided to take advantage of our time and go to Stillwater. We had read a little about it and figured it was more of an adult oriented shopping day. After dropping off the kids as daycare we hit the road. It was probably only 45mins away. They are most famous for their lift bridge that connects to Wisconsin. We noticed they are currently constructing a traditional bridge that connects right to hwy 36.  Getting there was pretty easy but parking is another story. We were able to find a free 3hr lot since we got there so early.

This town has more Antiuqe Stores then anywhere else. It was the first time in
about 10-15 years that I stepped into an Antique store and the first time for my husband. I instantly started to get excited about all the different finds in the stores. What is scary is that my husband may have enjoyed it more.According to the books, they say you should plan for an entire day just shopping on the main street. They were right. We even found a bust of Abe Lincoln in one shop. We loved the collection of teas at Spice & Tea Co. along with the selection of infused olive oils at Stillwater Olive Oil. I can’t wait to start cooking with it.

In case anyone was wondering they do have stuff for kids to do have a Toy Store and at least 3 old fashion candy stores. They also looked to have Teddy Bear Park for the kids to play on off the beaten path.

Candy Shop

Get there early. The free parking fills up fast. We went on a Monday and the place was busy lunch time. It was also the end of summer so there could have been others doing the same thing we were. Some parking lots charge, but will reimburse you when you eat in the restaurant.

They have a cave tour and historic Trolly Rides. We didn’t check on the price of the cave tour since we just had a rock/hiking adventure the day before but the Trolly is $13.50 for adults. The nice thing about the Trolly is that it will take you into some of the residential area. The Houses and Bed and Breakfasts that have some of the most amazing architecture. With the exception of walking, its probably the best way to see it. We may go back with the kids later in the Fall to check out the Apple Orchards near by too.

Taylors Falls

Taylors Falls, MN (August 30)Water Pot Water Tower

This was our first official day trip. We decided to start small since we had the kids with us. Becca had a fun time trying to find the teapot water town in Lindstrom MN. We found out that it will steam a few times during the day… we just are not sure of the times. Still a fun little side show. Its a cute little town and worth quick stop in if you have the time. We even spotted a mini statue of liberty (sorry no pic).

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